Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Murder Plain and Simple

Murder, Plain and Simple (Amish Quilt Shop Mystery - Book 1) by Isabella Alan

Publication Date: 09/03/2013
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Obsidian Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 368
ISBN-10: 0451413636
ISBN-13: 978-0451413635

(Received for an honest review from Obsidian Mystery)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Isabella Alan  (aka. Amanda Flower) on the WEB: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from Murder, Plain and Simple, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.


When Angela Braddock inherits her late aunt’s beautiful Amish quilt shop, she leaves behind her career and broken engagement for a fresh start in Holmes County, Ohio.
With her snazzy cowboy boots and her ornithophobic French bulldog, Angie doesn’t exactly fit in with the predominantly Amish community in Rolling Brook, but her aunt’s quilting circle tries to make her feel welcome as she prepares for the reopening of Running Stitch. 
On the big day, Angie gets a taste of success as the locals and Englisch tourists browse the store’s wares while the quilters stitch away. But when Angie finds the body of ornery Amish woodworker Joseph in her storeroom the next morning, everything starts falling apart.
With evidence mounting against her, Angie is determined to find the culprit before the local sheriff can arrest her. Rolling Brook always appeared to be a simple place, but the closer Angie gets to the killer, the more she realizes that nothing in the small Amish community is as plain as it seems....  


Murder, Plain and Simple is the first book in the Amish Quilt Shop Mystery series by Isabella Alan. Alan is a pseudonym for bestselling mystery author Amanda Flower. This cozy mystery is set in the Amish community of Rolling Brook, Ohio and introduces readers to heroine, Angie Braddock. Alan's take on the Amish is not necessarily what the reader might expect and there is plenty of action to keep those pages turning. Cozy readers and Amish enthusiasts alike will be raving about this debut. It proves to be a great start for Isabella Alan.

Angie Braddock is returning to her aunt's quaint little quilt shop in the heart of an Amish community. Angie's mother and her sister took very different paths in life. One married and Amish man and started a life with him, the other moved to Texas to be a part of southern society. Angie has been brought up as a part of Dallas society, but she needs a change when her engagement ends in heartbreak. Her aunt's shop sounds like just the change she needs. Author Isabella Alan introduces readers to Angie and to the town of Rolling Brook. Alan writes Angie as a strong, independent woman, who isn't afraid of a challenge and she certainly finds one when she takes over the Running Stitch quilt shop. Readers will definitely find Angie to be a likable heroine, whose curiosity knows no bounds.

The town of Rolling Brook is not exactly what Angie expects it to be like and it probably won't be what the reader expects either. Alan's take on the Amish is interesting and perhaps a little hard to take in the beginning. Most often the Amish are portrayed as very forgiving and trusting in God to handle their problems and that sort of thing, but in Rolling Brook the Amish are a lot more human. You'll find everything from greed and gossip to betrayal and murder in this little town and that's just in the first few chapters. I thought Alan took a risk with this kind of approach to the Amish community, it was definitely outside the box. But if we are honest with ourselves, this probably pretty realistic as to how it really is. The Amish aren't perfect either and in this case it plays into the story well. 

A local shopkeeper believes he is the real owner of the Running Stitch and Angie is going to have to come up with her aunt's old deed before the question can be settled. When he shows up dead in her storeroom, Angie is determined to clear her good name and find out who wanted Joseph the woodworker dead. There are quite a few suspects and plenty of motives. Alan keeps the reader guessing all the way to the end. I thought I had it figured out a time or two, but I was just chasing false leads. Alan holds reader off until the big reveal and that makes all the difference.

Alan goes out on a limb with this one, but she brings it all together and it works. Once the reader starts to get into the book, they will start to understand why Alan wrote the book they way she did and what she was trying to accomplish. It's a good mystery and the clues are easy to figure out, while the real killer stays hidden until very close to the end. A good debut to a new series. Looking forward to seeing where Isabella Alan will take this series and how the community of Rolling Brook will evolve.

Murder, Plain and Simple is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this book 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author

Isabella Alan, an academic librarian for a small college in Ohio, grew up visiting the state’s Amish country with her family. Her 2010 debut, Maid of Murder, written under the name Amanda Flower, received an Agatha Award nomination for Best First Novel. 

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Murder, Plain and Simple by Isabella Alan.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US Addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, November 12th.

1. Please leave a comment describing a favorite quilting or sewing experience or one you would like to have.
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Linda Kish said...

I'm not a quilter but my old neighbor is. She and my son love hot air balloons and they used to fly over our houses all of the time. She made a beautiful full-size quilt for my son with a little kitty hidden in one of the baskets since my son also love cats. I put it up so the cats wouldn't destroy it for when he gets older.

traveler said...

I haven't quilted but a sewing experience that was memorable and special took place one summer when I was taught how to embroider and sew and make potholders and towels. I was young and enjoyed it greatly. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Book Dragon said...

being under the quilt my Mom and her friends were working on

justpeachy36 said...

When I was a kid both of my grandmothers were avid quilters. We lived next door to my dad's mom and at one point my mom's mom came to live with us. They quilted together often and really enjoyed each other's company. I loved to sit and watch them quilt. It's a wonderful memory.

Charlotte said...

I am not able to do any type of sewing any more and I really miss all the fun I had.

NoraA said...

I learned to sew in the sixth grade. We made paper mache puppet heads around toilet paper centers. We learned 4 stitches to make the body of the puppet.

Other then sewing on a button or fixing a hem, I do not sew, quilt, or do any other type of hobby stuff. LOL

Rita Wray said...

When my daughter was small I sewed a lot of clothes for her dolls. It was fun and the clothes were cute.


Karen B said...

I'm still using the quilt my grandmother made me in 1950. It's been in use most of those years and is tattered and worn but I can't get rid of it. Too many wonderful memories.


I have never learned to quilt, but it is on my list of things to do. I still have quilts that my grandmother made, and I would love to pass down quilts to my grandchildren.

Carol N Wong said...

At a Shaker historical reconstruction site, we were asked to put in one quilting stitch!


bn100 said...

Don't quilt or sew

Dotty Kelley said...

Can't quilt or sew. Example: In high school, i was fixing the hem on my school uniform. Finished it and was congratulating myself on a job well done. Stood up and discovered i had somehow sewn the uniform to my pant leg!


ann said...

I used to sew quilts and my grandma used to do tiny 1 inch square quilts - every stitch by hand and all the same size stitch to (WOW)
Love to when I have time too
amhengst AT verizon DOT net

Sue Farrell said...

I'm totally incompetent when it comes to any sewing type activity---so I'm happy to just read about it.

lag123 said...

The first quilt I made was for my grandson. It was made from vintage cowboy fabric.

lag110@mchsi dot com

Nancy said...

I'd rather crochet than sew or quilt. Most of my sewing is mending and I made one quilt right after we were first married, about 35 years ago.

Wendy Newcomb said...

The first quilt I made was for a club I belonged to and we used it for a raffle.


holdenj said...

I don't sew or quilt myself, but one of my favorite possessions is a crazy quilt my great-grandmother made. It's truly a riot of colors and types of fabric.

Carol M said...

I don't sew and I've never made a quilt. I've done a little cross-stitching in the past.

Anita Yancey said...

My favorite sewing experience is when I was six my mom taught me to sew. I then went on to make all of my dolls clothes, and then as a teenager I made my own clothes.

Anonymous said...

I hate to sew but I love the title of the book.

Anonymous said...

I hate to sew but I love the title of the book.

Anonymous said...

I hate to sew but I love the title of the book.