Vannetta Chapman writes both Amish romance novels and Amish mysteries. Her Shipshewana mystery series intrigued me because they revolve around a quilt shop which the "English" Callie who has inherited her aunt in Amish country. Having made friends with the married Amish Debbie, Callie and her new friend seem to find themselves amidst one mystery after another in the northern Indiana countryside.
The juxtaposition of secrets, crimes, and unidentified bodies to the peaceful, routine lives of the Plain People seems an unlikely match for good fiction, but Chapman has succeeded. Readers will not easily figure out why Reuben refuses to cooperate with the authorities after his arrest when he clearly had nothing to do with the woman's body found in his pond. And when Chapman seemed to add a side story about a little girl who disappeared fifty years ago, I wonder if the story was falling apart. I was wrong and as the pieces fit together, Chapman shows readers that even in tragedies are there opportunities for unexpected grace, forgiveness, and new beginnings.
The only criticism I have for this book (and actually other Amish novels I've read) is that there seems to be an abundance of young widows and widowers, something I find quite unrealistic. I believe this is a fictional license needed so stories can be woven with more "mature" characters. In contemporary novels, these characters might be divorced or never married, but that does not fit the Amish/Mennonite settings. Just an observation!
Check out Vannetta Chapman's website here. Don't miss the video trailers of her books and her blog. I downloaded this book from Wisconsin Public Library Consortium for my Nook.
This is my 250th posting! Wow!!