17 February 2012

Book Review: Falling to Pieces by Vannetta Chapman

In Falling to Pieces, Three young Amish mothers, Deborah, Esther and Melinda, have been friends and quilting partners for years. With the death of Esther's husband and the rare illness of Melinda's son placing financial pressure on them, they sew traditional quilts to sell to tourists in Daisy's Quilt Shop. But when Daisy dies and her niece Callie inherits the shop, they have to persuade her to reopen the shop and try and sell their quilts at ibby (they mean online via an eBay auction - I thought that ‘ibby’ was quite funny).

Callie is hiding her own hurts, having lost a child and her husband. She is reluctant to commit to staying in Shipshewana, but no longer has any ties to Houston and the home she shared with her husband. The friendship of the Amish women persuades her to stay temporarily, but an argument with the local newspaper editor and his subsequent murder may mean she has to stay longer than intended...

I have read a few mysteries lately, which is a new genre for me. I have to say that I am enjoying them, and Falling to Pieces is no exception. The plot is typical for the genre – most scenes are from the point of view of either Callie or Deborah, with the occasional scene from the murderer’s viewpoint. There were the potential suspects, the requisite red herrings, the surprise at the end when the culprit is revealed, and a potential touch of romance for Callie. All in all, Falling to Pieces is a very satisfying read.

Most of the Amish books I have read have been romances, and it has to be said that they can get very repetitive. The standard plot line seems to feature a teenage girl who hasn’t yet been baptised into the Amish faith, who then has to choose between the Englisch world and her family (with the Amish hero often playing a large part in that decision). As someone who is (ahem) no longer a teenager, I’m over the angst of teenage romance (although I can quite see myself encouraging my almost-teenage daughter to read them in a few years).

But I have read a couple of other mysteries set in Amish communities, and I have to say that I enjoy them. The women are older, usually married with children, and they seem more intelligent (or that could just be more mature). The Amish romances tend to stress the separation of the Amish from the Englisch world, while the mysteries feature a combination of Amish and Englisch characters living and working together in relative harmony – at least, until someone gets murdered. So while I’m not going to be hurrying out there to get another Amish romance, Vannetta Chapman and Falling to Pieces have convinced me that Amish mysteries are worth looking out for. (Others I have read and enjoyed include Secrets of Harmony Groveby Mindy Starns Clark and Hide in Plain Sight by Marta Perry, and I have a couple more in my to-be-read pile).

The second book in the Shipshewana Amish series, A Perfect Square, will be released on 6 March 2012 (Kindle edition) or 1 April (paperback edition). It has always been a standing joke with my parents that no one who wants to live should be anywhere near Miss Marple, Inspector Morse, Taggart or the village of Midsomer. It sounds as though Shipshewana might be joining this list of places that have far too many murders...

Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Vannetta Chapman on her blog or her website.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review, Iola. Glad you gave my Amish mysteries a try, and please tell your parents they don't have to avoid Shipshewana. I PROMISE, it's a very safe town. Eventually I have to stop killing people there. Have a great week.: )-