Murder Simply Brewed
Unexpected friendships are one of the sweet surprises of life. It is always a joy when we find ourselves bridging age diversity or another difference to form an acquaintanceship with a person truly at variance from ourselves. The two main characters of this novel cross the divides of a generation gap and religion to form a wonderful friendship.
Amish girl Hannah Troyer loves her job. Working in the quilt shop at the Amish Artisan Village Mall gives her an opportunity to showcase one of her true talents and interact with people of all different kinds. She knows she is a real asset to the store manager and since many of her friends work in the village mall as well it gives her a chance to see them on a regular basis. At the age of twenty-two the only thing that can add to her already near perfect existence is a beau.
But as she is opening the quilt shop one morning she notices that the usual aromatic scent of coffee that fills her small haven is missing. Why hasn’t the manager of the kaffi bar next door started his morning brews? Going over to see if any assistance is needed she finds the man slumped near his espresso machine, clearly dead. The window in the front of his shop looks like it has been damaged by bullet holes. Realizing she is looking at a serious situation, Hannah races to the phone to call mall manager Amber Wright.
Amber Wright typically loves her job as the manager of the Amish Artisan Mall. Today, not so much. Once the police arrive on the scene they assure her that this is a simple case of vandalism (the shots in the coffee shop window were made with a BB gun ) occurring around the same time as a fatal heart attack. It can’t even be proved that one caused the other. While the situation is tragic, the death is not criminal. There will be a search for the vandals but they are unlikely to find them. But both Amber and Hannah are deeply disturbed by the event.
Since the show must go on or in this case, the coffee keep pouring, Amber promotes Hannah to coffee shop manager the next day. The young woman has proven herself resourceful and hardworking in the quilt shop and Amber is sure she will shine in her new role as barista. But as more and more instances of vandalism occur around the mall, the two find themselves working together to try to figure out just who is trying to harm the business. Jessie, Hannah’s young Amish courter, and Tate, Amber’s handsome neighbor, give the ladies a helping hand. Is true love going to lead to the resolution of true crime? Or will crime triumph over budding romance?
I am not a big fan of the Amish craze that has swept through the Inspirational market in recent years but this simple mystery is a delightful blend of cozy thriller and romance. I feel that one of its strengths is showcasing how the Amish are dealing with the 21st century society which encroaches on their lives at every turn. Working in our world while living in theirs and smoothly balancing between the two can be a strain and the characters reflect the commitment it takes to be who you are in a world that sometimes can’t quite accept that. I especially appreciated Hannah’s mom, who encourages her daughter’s friendship with an older Christian woman of a different style of faith from their own. It highlighted the flexibility required to adhere to your own set of beliefs without turning judgmental or bitter when surrounded by others who behave very differently. The friendship that forms between the two women is very sweet.
Another bright aspect of the novel is the relationship between Tate and Amber. As a woman who has concentrated on her career Amber simply hasn’t had the time to devote to relationships. Tate on the other hand is a widower who had a good marriage. He realizes that career woman Amber is going to be a complete contrast to his late wife and yet he also realizes that might be a good thing. It was refreshing to see this romance between two adults who are more advanced in years than is typical in a romance novel. And I liked that the author showed how we can love different types of people at different points in our lives.
I also appreciated that the mystery portion of the story started with crimes that at least on the surface looked harmless. It made sense that the people involved were more interested in solving them than the police because the police don’t really have the time to investigate mild acts of vandalism. I typically have problems with amateur sleuths but this resolved that issue nicely for me.
The book had a few flaws – I found the villain a bit over the top and the pacing was a bit slow for my taste – but for the most part this is an enjoyable cozy with some unique protagonists.