A Plain Death by Amanda Flower

I decided to read as many of the books as I can find that are shortlisted for the INSPY awards this year. A Plain Death is one of the five books shortlisted in the Mystery/Thriller category.

This Amish country-setting mystery is the first in the Appleseed Creek Mystery series, and it’s an adequate beginning to a promising series. When Chloe Humphrey moves to Appleseed Creek to take a job as computer services director with a small private college, she doesn’t expect to gain an Amish roommate and a new crush on said roommate’s handsome brother all on the first day. Events snowball quickly from first-day surprises to real danger as a local Amish bishop dies in an accident that may have been more than an accident, and Chloe feels compelled to help out her new friend by investigating the death and the suspicious circumstances surrounding it.

I enjoyed this book as a “bedtime story” last night even though I did find a couple of continuity errors and some minor editing errors. I’m also not sure I totally bought into the ending, but the story was engaging enough that I didn’t really care.

What is it that’s so fascinating about Amish culture anyway? I don’t read a lot of so-called “Amish fiction”, but I do see the attraction. I guess it fits with my reading and life fascinations: communities, religious communities, broken relationships and healing of those relationships, prodigals, utopian communities. I do like reading about people who have chosen a different lifestyle from the norm and about how religious communities in particular work or don’t work to bring people to a saving knowledge of the grace of God in Christ.

A Plain Death isn’t a book with a profound message about being Amish or about gospel in general, but it did have a nice flavor of AMish country. I would enjoy reading the next book in the series, A Plain Scandal, which was just published in February. A Plain Disappearance, the third book in the series, is due to be published in September, 2013.

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