6 April 2012

Review: A Perfect Square by Vanetta Chapman

A Perfect Square brings us back to Shipshewana, to Callie and her Amish friends, and to what looks like another murder, when the Amish women find a teenage girl drowned in Reuben’s pond. Their discovery is observed by a hidden stranger, who escapes unseen and narrates his portion of the story through a series of flashbacks.

As A Perfect Squareunfolds, we find out that the victim is newly-wed Katie, and the reader is left to uncover the mystery that links her with the mysterious stranger, Reuben and the four women. In the middle of this, Callie receives a visit from an old man who wants her to find his daughter. The problem is that Ira Bontrager has dementia, and his son says he was an only child. This is potentially another mystery: is there a missing daughter, and how does this relate to the murdered girl?

There are aspects of Amish culture that I find strange, such as the way they answer direct questions but will not volunteer additional information even when it might be relevant. Reuben is particularly reticent. This has the potential to be misleading and could be seen as an obstruction of justice. And this time, withholding information is going to get Reuben into trouble. The rules of the mystery genre dictate that the culprit is a character we know. This gets a bit awkward, as we get to know the cast and don't want it to be any of them, not even Reuben, who is definitely hiding something.

One of the things I like most about these books is that the characters seem very real. Callie is reluctant to date either Andrew or Trent because she just feels herself pulling back. It seemed like the natural reluctance of a young widow, and I liked it. The characters are by no means perfect. Even the Amish have tempers and meltdowns and question God just like the rest of us (I say ‘even’ because so much Amish fiction romanticises the Amish to the point that they all appear to be ‘perfect Christians’). And I really liked the ending. It was beautiful, full of understanding, grace and forgiveness. But you’ll have to read it yourself to find out why.

A Perfect Square is the second in the Shipshewana series, following Falling to Pieces, and the third book, Material Witness, is due to be published in August 2012. More information about Vanetta Chapman can be found at her website or blog. Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review, Tina. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the story and most importantly that you understood it's ultimately a story of grace. Have a wonderful week!