Rachel Mast straddles the Amish world where she grew up, and the “English” world where she tried living for several years in corporate America, before returning to Stone Mill, Pennsylvania, to run a Bed & Breakfast. Plain Dead, the third installment in Emma Miller’s Amish mystery series, opens with Rachel organizing the Winter Frolic, a festival designed to bring in tourists with a much-needed cash infusion for the Amish community.
Newspaperman and gossip columnist Bill Billingsley threatens to expose a secret from Rachel’s stint on Wall Street that could jeopardize her standing in the community. The two argue publicly. The next morning, Bill is found frozen to death on his front porch, bound and gagged and locked out of his house.
Evan, Rachel’s fiancé, is the police detective assigned to the case. Although Evan does not believe Rachel could commit murder, the evidence against her mounts as one after another of the other suspects is cleared, often with Rachel’s help. Rachel feels betrayed that Evan could even consider her a suspect, and her meddling in the investigation causes friction in their relationship.
Emma Miller, who also writes Amish romances for Harlequin’s Love Inspired line, paints a vivid picture of the Amish culture, with honest insights into their beliefs and values. She has created a likable heroine in Rachel, whose understanding of the Plain ways and ability to maintain their trust uniquely qualifies her to probe where “English” law enforcement is shut out.
Clues like a lost hat and a buggy parked in the wrong place at the wrong time are dismissed by the police, but they lead Rachel down a path she would rather forego. She almost becomes another victim as the surprise murderer is revealed.
Plain Dead is not only an entertaining mystery, but it sheds light on a culture most readers know only in stereotypes.
Sharon Marchisello is the author of Going Home, a murder mystery inspired by her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s. She has a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is a member of the Atlanta Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She lives in Peachtree City, GA, with her husband and cat, and does volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society.
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