You wouldn’t think an Amish Artisan Village in Indiana would attract many violent crimes, but amateur sleuths Amber Bowman and Hannah Troyer know differently. So far, they’ve solved two murder mysteries and now find themselves in the middle of another one – but this time, Amber herself may be the target!
When badly-rhythmed poetry begins appearing around the Village, warning that the attached pies have been poisoned, Amber and Hannah are confused. Who would poison a pie? And why would they leave a warning that they’d done so? It would seem like mostly harmless pranks – except for the threatening anonymous emails Amber’s been getting from the “sweet-toothed saboteur”. Emails that she can’t share with anyone if she wants to keep the people she loves safe.
As Hannah and Jesse plan their wedding – and Amber and the Village prepare to host a Race for the Cure – everyone will need to work together to put another murderer behind bars before disaster strikes.
I know I said this in my review of Murder Tightly Knit but I just really love these characters! The interactions between Amish and Englisch (non-Amish) are natural and refreshing, especially in today’s world where differences so publicly divide. The sincerity and genuineness of their friendships warms the reader despite the suspense and adds elements of humor in the midst of tension (Pam’s reactions while being held hostage by a paintball attack comes to mind here).
I’ve always liked Amber, but in this book she became my favorite character (followed very closely by Mocha, who we will get to in a moment). Why, all of a sudden, did she rise above the others? Well, because in this book, she tries to knit and crochet. “Amber stared down at the yellow, purple, and green mess she’d made. Somehow her ripple looked more like a strange, geometric object.” She wants to learn so desperately to knit & crochet like her Amish friends but it just doesn’t turn out so well for her. I can relate. Many skilled knitters have tried to teach me over the years – including my beloved grandmother. All of them, without exception, have at some point stopped and looked at my work and said, “How did you do that?” Amber and I bonded over our knitting/crochet war stories, and now the two of us are lifelong friends 🙂
My other favorite character? Mocha, Preston’s service dog. If you remember Preston from the previous two books, you may be wondering why he needs a service dog. After all, he’s not deaf or blind or disabled. True, but Preston is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and he has PTSD. Did you know that service dogs can help people with PTSD? I did not, but Ms. Chapman does a great job of explaining their benefits throughout the story. Preston has long been one of those characters that I wanted to spend more time getting to know, so I was thrilled when Ms. Chapman gave him “main character” status in this novel. His personality, his love story, his protectiveness over his friends, and his relationship with Mocha – all made me grin happily whenever he showed up on the page.
One thing that kept coming to mind across all three books in this Amish Village series is the “Agatha Christie” feel to the writing, the atmosphere, the cases, even the characters. It delighted me in Murder Freshly Baked to see several references to Agatha Christie, my favorite being when Hannah mentioned Amber loaning her some of the mystery author’s books. I just knew they had to be mystery readers, too! All the best amateur sleuths are, of course.
Bottom line: If we must say goodbye, Murder Freshly Baked is a delightfully charming way to end this wonderful series. Sweetly passionate romance, two puzzling mysteries, a dash of tangible tension, a handful of selfless friendships, and just the right amount of witty humor all mix together to produce a delicious story that you won’t want to put down.
Murder Freshly Baked gets 4 out of 5 stars – the entire Amish Village series is a must read for both Agatha Christie/Sherlock Holmes fans and Amish genre fans!
(I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for only my honest review.)
About the Author:
Vannetta Chapman holds a BA and MA degree in English and has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. She published a novel with Abingdon Press called A Simple Amish Christmas in October of 2010. Her first Quilt Shop Murder Mystery, Falling to Pieces (Zondervan) was released in September of 2011 and received the 2012 Carol Award for best mystery. She currently lives in the Texas hill country. You can connect with Vannetta on her website and at Facebook.