By Vannetta Chapman
Published by Zondervan
Even before she heard of Owen Esch’s death, Hannah Troyer knew something was amiss at The Cat’s Meow yarn shop. The store has been closing at odd times, the ever-dependable Mary isn’t always at her post . . . and an Englisch man has been loitering around back.
Now, as leaves of brown, gold, and orange blanket Middlebury, Indiana, Owen lies dead on the Pumpkinvine Trail. The only clues to the murderer’s identity point in two very different directions—one of them leading right to The Cat’s Meow.
The police call in a federal investigator, but Hannah and village manager Amber Bowman are in no mood to wait for them to figure out what they already know—that no one from the Amish Village killed Owen Esch.
Amber and Hannah need to work quickly to solve the murder mystery and bring harmony back to the Amish community.
This may have been the first cozy mystery I’ve read. It’s certainly the first I remember reading, and the concept of an Amish murder mystery is truly unique.
My experience with the Amish is very limited. Outside of their candy—the Amish community midway between Kansas City, MO and Branson makes the best candy covered almonds ever!—I’ve not experienced their culture at all, except through a book or two. So it was intriguing to read about this small, close knit community, one where the Amish and Englisch often interacted. Middlebury reminded me of some beach and lakefront shopping areas our family has visited on vacations. In that aspect, Ms. Chapman did a great job of crafting a pleasant, touristy, close-knit community.
The mystery thread of this novel was truly well done. It was fun to follow the clues, form suspicions, then later, discover my suspicions had been misplaced! Although I also held a great deal of suspicion for the villain, and towards the end, was utterly convinced he was the murderer. I wasn’t, however, convinced the authorities would clue in to this fact.
Not being an Amish fiction reader, I wasn’t hugely interested in a lot of the day-to-day details presented in this book, but I recognize many Amish fiction fans would be. (In fact, those very details could very well be what Amish fiction fans enjoy most!) I also found aspects of the book unnecessary, like much of Amber’s personal life, mainly because I never quite figured out how it related to the story. As a result, I did find myself skimming a bit and still able to keep up with the overall plot and various threads. However, for Amish fiction, the premise was unique, the mystery fun, and the setting endearing. Those who enjoy Amish fiction should give Murder Tightly Knit a try.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery