Series: An Amish Mystery #1
Format Read: Mass Market Paperback
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Buying Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Book Depository
Book Blurb (from goodreads):
Claire Weatherly has fled a high-stress lifestyle for a slower pace—in Amish country: Heavenly, Pennsylvania. She only planned a short visit but instead found herself opening an Amish specialty shop, Heavenly Treasures, and settling in.Claire loves her new home, and she’s slowly making friends among the locals, including Esther, a young Amish woman who works in the shop. So when the store’s former owner,the unlikable Walter Snow, is murdered, and the man Esther is sweet on becomes a suspect, Claire can’t help but get involved. Newly returned Detective Jakob Fisher, who left Heavenly—and his Amish upbringing—as a teenager, is on the case. But his investigation is stalled by the fact that none of his former community will speak with him. Claire’s connections make her the perfect go-between. As Claire investigates, she uncovers more than she wanted to know about her neighbors. And suddenly, everything she had hoped to find in this peaceful refuge is at risk . . .
I didn't love this book but I did enjoy it and I expect I'll read the next one. I'm curious to see how she handles this series. It's set in a town called Heavenly, a small rural town right next door to an Amish community. It's mentioned in the book that the last murder was 16 years ago so I can't see the setting being fertile ground for a viable murder mystery series. Also, it's my understanding that crime within Amish communities is low; now, crimes committed against the Amish are higher, though I don't know actual numbers. If the author incorporates other kinds of mysteries, that would be the better road although, again, the setting doesn't really lend itself to an ongoing mystery series.
I liked how respectful the author was concerning the Amish; this was not the tourist, "oh aren't they special", approach. Bradford takes the time to show the Amish characters in the story as individuals, as people, and she's respectful of their way of life. Several times the main character, Claire, has to bite her tongue and remind herself that just because it's not her way of life, that doesn't make it wrong.
Claire is likable. She's been getting over a divorce, and made major changes to her life; moving from New York City to this small town in rural Pennsylvania, moving in with her aunt and helping her run a B&B, and opening her own store.
That store was previously owned by a man who took advantage of the Amish and then ran away with their money. He was threatened publicly by one of the Amish, a young man named Eli, who has trouble controlling his temper. That difficulty causes problems for him within his Amish community. When the man who stole from them turns up dead, Eli is the first suspect for his murder.
Bradford introduces further complications with a new police detective who grew up in that Amish community and then left it to become a police officer. He's shunned by the Amish community which makes it difficult for him to conduct his investigation. Additionally, he and Claire and drawn to each other and, to complicate things further, Claire is also drawn to a widower, Benjamin, but he's Amish and Claire doesn't see herself converting nor Benjamin leaving.
"Hearse and Buggy" is a murder mystery, a romance (there are several), and a story of self-discovery. A little slow at times, Bradford weaves the story lines together and pulls off the different mysteries going on in a quiet, meandering yet intriguing fashion. There's a substance to the story that some cozy mysteries don't have while it still retains that cozy feel. If you want a smart, complex yet cozy story, give this a try.
I borrowed this from the library.