Hearse and Buggy by Laura Bradford is the first book in the new “Amish” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, June 2012
Claire Weatherly has fled her high-stress lifestyle for one with a slower pace–in Amish country: Heavenly, Pennsylvania. She only planned for it to be a short visit to her aunt’s inn, 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 to 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.
We are introduced to Claire who has opened up a specialty shop in her newly adopted home. She is enjoying the simplicity of her new town and the new friends she has made when a body is found outside her store. When her young employee’s friend becomes the prime suspect, it will take Claire’s keen observations and the new detective who has close ties to her employee to solve this mystery.
This was a great read that was hard to put down. The evenly-paced drama and intriguing plot kept me on my toes as the story moved towards its conclusion. Claire is a strong character and I enjoyed seeing her live and work alongside the Amish, respecting their ways to gently get the necessary information to expose a murderer among them. This mystery boasts crisp writing, a comfortable tone, engaging dialogue and a great supporting cast that enhanced this captivating and delightfully charming debut series and I look forward to more visits with Claire and her friends for years to come.