Murder Tightly Knit (Amish Village Mystery Series #2)

Murder Tightly Knit (Amish Village Mystery Series #2)

by Vannetta Chapman
Murder Tightly Knit (Amish Village Mystery Series #2)

Murder Tightly Knit (Amish Village Mystery Series #2)

by Vannetta Chapman

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Overview

Something is amiss at The Cat’s Meow yarn shop.

Even before she heard of Owen Esch’s death, Hannah Troyer knew something wasn’t right. The yarn 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. In a town where Amish and Englisch mingle daily, mutual suspicions build.

Amber and Hannah need to work quickly to solve the murder mystery and bring harmony back to the Amish community.

  • Sweet and cozy Amish mystery
  • Part of the Amish Village Mystery Series. Book 1: Murder Simply Brewed; Book 2: Murder Tightly Knit; Book 3: Murder Freshly Baked
  • Book length: 85,000 words
  • Includes discussion questions for book clubs


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310325697
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 12/16/2014
Series: Amish Village Mystery Series , #2
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 384,999
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She is the author of sixteen novels, including the Pebble Creek Amish series, The Shipshewana Amish Mystery series, and Anna’s Healing, a 2016 Christy Award finalist. Vannetta is a Carol award winner and has also received more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She was a teacher for fifteen years and currently resides in the Texas hill country. Visit Vannetta online: Vannetta Chapman.com, Twitter: @Vannetta Chapman, Facebook: Vannetta Chapman Books.

Read an Excerpt

Murder Tightly Knit


By Vannetta Chapman

ZONDERVAN

Copyright © 2014 Vannetta Chapman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-32569-7


CHAPTER 1

The Village Middlebury, Indiana Five hours later


Hannah stood in front of The Cat's Meow, peering through the window and rattling the doorknob.

No answer.

Brushing her kapp strings behind her shoulders and then pushing her glasses up on her nose, she squinted, trying to see beyond the Closed for Lunch sign.

No luck.

She could see her own reflection—though the glass made her look wider than she was. Her weight had never been a problem, and she knew it was wrong to be proud of that. As she stared into the glass, she did straighten her kapp and pull down her apron. How was it that she became so disheveled at times?

Stepping closer with her nose now nearly on the glass, she couldn't make out much more than the front yarn displays. She thought she saw a light on at the back of the shop. Was Mary in her office eating lunch? If so, she might ignore the knocking, thinking that Hannah was an impatient customer.

Come to think of it, why wasn't the shop open? Their boss, Amber, provided relief for lunch breaks. They were all supposed to stay open from eight a.m. until closing time at five p.m., even her kaffi shop, which had recently expanded its hours. They were not supposed to close for lunch—or for any other reason, for that matter. They had procedures for every type of emergency. Most of them involved consulting the list of unassigned employees. Someone was always available to fill in.

She peered through the glass again. The Cat's Meow was a cute shop.

The window display reminded Hannah of when she had worked in the quilt store, The Quilting Bee. Half of the display was supplies—knitting needles, pattern books, and yarn filled three handmade baskets. The other half of the window held afghans, sweaters, hats, and scarves made by Mary and other women in their community. Mary had chosen to display fall colors, which was smart. Folks might not finish a new project until winter, but the fall colors would be appealing. The reds, browns, and golds matched the leaves scurrying along the pavement and past the row of Village shops.

The Village was a collection of buildings—an inn with a conference center, a restaurant, a bakery, and six shops were all situated around a small pond. Amber Bowman was the general manager, and Hannah worked in the kaffi shop—A Simple Blend. She loved her job.

Last she'd heard, Mary loved hers too.

So where was she?

Hannah needed to buy some yarn. She'd decided to knit a blue-and-gray buggy blanket for Jesse for Christmas. She didn't blush anymore when she thought about the fact that she was being courted by Jesse Miller. She didn't blush, but her heart rate did kick up a notch. Jesse hadn't asked her to marry him—yet. Some mornings she woke wondering if today would be the day, but other mornings she woke hoping it wouldn't be.

Love was so confusing!

In the meantime, they had become the best of friends.

She turned to make her way back toward her shop—her shop because she'd recently been appointed the permanent manager. Amber had offered her the job back in the summer, after the ninety-day trial period was over. Memories from early spring and all that had occurred at the Village threatened to push through Hannah's thoughts and ruin her good mood.

She tamped down the sobering thoughts.

It was a fine fall day. She was not going to spend it hashing over the events of Ethan's death yet again. "Past is past," as her mamm was fond of saying. "Best leave it there."

Hannah had stepped no more than three feet away from the yarn shop when she saw Bradley walking toward her. He was easy to see because he was so tall and had red hair. It seemed to her that he didn't fit in among the Amish or the Englisch. Bradley took care of maintenance on the computers around the Village. He also helped with the security system. He could work wonders with anything that was plugged in. He was what her Englisch friends called a geek.

She didn't want to run into Bradley, not now. For one thing, he would insist on accompanying her to wherever she was going. For another thing, he seemed to have a crush on her.

Hannah darted into the garden area between The Cat's Meow and Village Fashions. Colorful mums circled the trees. Guests rested and ate and talked at the three small patio tables sporting dark-green umbrellas. She smiled and continued through them, coming out in the alleyway that skirted behind the shops.

Glancing right, she saw the coast was clear.

Then she looked left.

Who was the Englisch man standing behind The Cat's Meow? Why was he there, leaning his back against the wall with one foot propped against it and the other planted out in front of him? He appeared to be waiting at the back door as if he expected someone to open it. Hannah couldn't see his face, which was in the shadows. She could tell he was of average height, and he wore a ball cap and a denim jacket. There was no doubt he was a man and not a boy. She couldn't have said how she knew, but she was certain.

There was also no doubt he was Englisch. The Amish boys sometimes wore Englisch clothes, but they never fit exactly right.

This man's ball cap was creased on the bill. She could see the tip of it. His denim jacket was faded but a perfect fit, and glancing down, Hannah saw he even wore cowboy boots. Definitely an Englischer.

He turned toward her, and for reasons she couldn't fathom she stepped back into the garden area, returned to the front walk, and peeked out. Bradley had already passed The Cat's Meow, so she turned left in the opposite direction.

She'd go back to her shop and talk to Seth.

Seth worked the afternoon shift at A Simple Blend. Though he sometimes still had mishaps, he'd made vast improvements since he'd started filling in for her.

But she wasn't going back to check on him and see how he was doing. There was another reason she wanted to see Seth. He knew more than she did about what was going on at the Village. Hannah had a tendency to keep to herself and focus on her assignment. She went straight to work and then headed home. If someone didn't come into her shop, she might not see them for weeks.

Not true of Seth Kauffman.

He had an ear for gossip.

* * *

Hannah stepped into the kaffi shop, braced for disaster.

Seth was wiping down tables.

The aroma of freshly brewed kaffi filled the air.

The instrumental hymn music piped throughout the store played softly over the speakers.

No spills. No accidents. No disasters.

It made her nervous.

When Seth wasn't in the middle of a calamity, one was usually brewing on the horizon. Not that she was a negative person, merely a practical one. And not that Seth hadn't improved. He had, which was why the accidents were now usually spaced apart by a few days.

"Hannah, why are you back?"

"Can't I stop by before I go home?"

"You can." Seth smiled at her, his brown hair flopping into his eyes. At seventeen he reminded her of her younger brother. Noah was the same age, but he never would have lasted working inside a shop. If Noah wasn't outside, he was restless and moody. Seth, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy the work.

"But you usually don't." Seth finished wiping down the table and headed behind the counter.

"Could we talk for a minute?" Hannah sat on a chair by the front window. No, she usually didn't stop back by the shop after she left. But something about what she'd seen behind The Cat's Meow bothered her.

"I'm not in trouble, am I? Because I've kept the decaf and caffeinated pots straight since—"

"You're not in trouble."

"Oh." Seth approached the table and hovered. His expression was puzzled and worried at the same time.

"You've done fine this week, Seth."

"It's Thursday."

"I know what day it is."

"And we weren't open Monday."

"I know that too. I'm the one who suggested we close so that Preston could repaint the bathroom without bothering any guests." Preston had recently been promoted to assistant manager of maintenance. Hannah also considered him a good friend.

"So technically this is the third day of our workweek."

"You've made it halfway. Let's celebrate that achievement."

Seth's expression didn't change. He didn't seem convinced at all, but he did sit down.

"I wanted to talk to you about Mary."

"Mary?"

"Mary Weaver." Hannah glanced out the window, as if Mary might appear and explain everything herself. "She manages The Cat's Meow."

"Ya, I know who she is."

"I was wondering if you'd heard anything about her."

Seth stared at the menu board on the wall of the kaffi shop, then down at his hands.

"I'm asking because you hear things more than I do, and I'm worried about her."

"Worried? Why?"

"Her shop was closed when I went by a few minutes ago."

"And?"

"And it's not supposed to be. You know that."

"Is that all?" Seth squinted at her, as if there was more distance between them than the width of the table.

"Nein. There also was an Englisch man standing outside the back of the shop. He looked as if he was waiting on her."

"I don't want to say anything that would hurt her reputation."

"But you've heard something."

"Maybe."

Hannah waited, but it seemed as if Seth had turned over a new leaf. A month ago he would have spilled at the first opportunity. Perhaps he was maturing. He had joined the church. She could hope that he was taking his commitment to the gospel and the community seriously.

"I'm not asking you to gossip about her, Seth. I want to help her if I can. If something's wrong."

"It's not exactly gossip. I've seen her myself."

"Seen her?"

"With an Englischer."

"Did he look middle-aged to you? Average height? Cowboy boots, jeans, and a ball cap?"

"Ya. How did you know?"

"That's who was waiting outside her shop. But why?"

Seth shrugged.

"And why was the shop closed?"

"I heard"—Seth hesitated, then pushed on—"I heard that she was having some sort of financial problems."

"Anything else?"

"That she might be dating this Englischer guy."

"This guy didn't act like he was waiting to pick her up for a date. I think he would have used the front door. Plus, who dates in the middle of the workday? None of this sounds like Mary."

"I don't think so either. Plus, she's a little old to be sneaking around with some guy. No offense."

"Why would I be offended?" Hannah's voice screeched slightly.

"You're both, you know." Seth's hand came out as if he meant to shoo away a fly. "Over twenty."

Hannah rolled her eyes and prayed for patience in the same breath. Over twenty? Both she and Jesse were twenty-two, not that far removed from Seth's own age of seventeen. He was acting as if they—and Mary—were ancient, as if they were old horses ready to be put out to pasture.

"Anything else?"

"Nein. She's not in trouble, is she? Mary was always nice to me when I used to fill in for her. Even after I allowed that alley cat to come in by accident. It started playing with the yarns and had them unrolled all over the shop. By the time I'd pick one up, two more would be wound around the shelves. You should have seen it."

"You're painting a pretty good picture. Danki, Seth. You've been very helpful."

Hannah stood to go. She was pushing on the door, about to step out into the sounds and smells of the Village, when Seth called out to her.

"There's one other thing I heard today, Hannah. Something I thought you'd be happy to know."

She paused, expecting him to say that Amber had complimented them or a customer was especially pleased. "Ya?"

"It's about Jesse."

"My Jesse?" The words sounded funny, but it was how she thought of him.

"Henry Yoder came in for a sweet roll. We're selling a lot of those rolls. I think we should—"

"Henry who monitors the parking lot?"

"Same one." Seth stuck his hands in his pockets and shifted from right foot to left foot. "You know Henry hears everything because people stop by as they're coming into work. Nathan, who works on the grounds crew with Jesse, has an eleven-to-seven shift today."

Hannah wanted to shake the information out of him, but Seth had his own way of telling a story.

"Seems Nathan had gone into town before work, and on his way here he stopped by the Dairy Queen for some breakfast. As he was leaving, he saw Andrew step into the parking lot. He'd been on the Pumpkinvine Trail, apparently."

"Who?"

"Andrew Miller. Jesse's bruder." Seth allowed himself to smile.

Hannah realized he thought he was delivering good news, and maybe he was.

Maybe.

"Here? In Middlebury?"

"Ya. Nathan offered to give him a ride, but Andrew said he'd rather walk, and then he turned and headed down the road." Seth gave the table near him one last brush with the dishcloth. "Jesse's bruder has come home."

CHAPTER 2

Jesse Miller sat at his parents' table, wolfing down his lunch. He'd spent the morning mucking out the stalls in the barn and attending to the horses' hooves—both time-consuming tasks when you had eight horses. Six were Belgian draft horses, used to working in the field. The two buggy horses were American Saddlebred.

He'd been caring for the horses since he was sixteen, and it felt good to be working at home, cleaning and standing in the shade of the barn with the horses. It was a perfect fall day.

Nearly perfect.

The problem was that he still had to pull a four-hour shift at the Village. It was his week to work half a day on the upcoming Saturday, so he'd had the morning free.

Free.

Well, not quite. There had been the horses and the stalls.

"I saw Hannah at the grocery store yesterday." His mother pushed the plate with slices of ham and cheese toward him even though he hadn't finished the sandwich in his hands. "She's a sweet girl."

"Ya. Soon our Jesse will be asking to marry her, Rebecca. Isn't that right, son?" His father, Ivan, didn't glance up from his own plate of food, but he didn't have to.

Jesse could sense the laughter lurking behind his father's comment. He seemed to be enjoying Jesse's courting Hannah nearly as much as Hannah and Jesse did.

For his parents, life proceeded in an easy, orderly fashion. You found a girl. You courted her. You married her. Next came a home and children, and then grandchildren, and then a gross-daddi home. You worked the land Monday through Friday, went to town on Saturday, and worshipped on Sunday.

The circle of life.

Many things had changed for his generation, though, and not for the better that he could see. Land had become more expensive, so much so that many Amish men his age either moved or chose a different profession than farming. There was also the influx of tourists. As an employee of the Village, he knew these people guaranteed his job. But as a man who might be starting a family soon, he wasn't sure it was beneficial to have so many strangers around.

His parents would be happy if he announced that he and Hannah would be married soon, but in his mind things weren't so simple.

So he nodded and continued to chew. Often that would work. The subject would change or one of his sisters would interrupt. Unfortunately, his three younger sisters were at school, and his oldest sister was at work. No one to deflect the questions.

"How about you invite her over to dinner this weekend?"

"I have to work Saturday, Mamm."

"Sunday then. There's no church this week. It would be nice to have her eat with us."

Ivan grunted as if that settled the matter.

Except it didn't. Some days Jesse felt as if he was leading Hannah on. Things around his house were complicated. His parents didn't seem to realize that, or maybe they'd learned to ignore it, but Jesse thought about it most every day.

He stood up from the table and walked to the counter to fetch the pitcher of water. Something, some movement, drew his attention to the window, and that was when he saw the lone figure strolling up their lane.

It was a figure he knew well. Same height—five feet, eleven inches. Same brown hair—grown a bit too long. Jesse couldn't make out his clothes from the distance, but he did notice what looked like a large backpack slung over his shoulders. He couldn't discern his expression yet, but no doubt the dark eyes would be amused, as they usually were.

Yes, he knew the person as well as he knew himself. He should. He'd followed in his footsteps, literally, as he'd grown and matured.

He had no trouble recognizing his brother, though it had been nearly a year since he'd last seen him. His visit to Chicago seemed like a distant memory. He supposed if it had been a lifetime, he'd still know that lanky frame and confident walk.

In some ways, people didn't change. They might gain or lose weight. They might change their haircuts or their clothing. None of that mattered. Something deep inside Jesse would always know Andrew. More than the image of his brother had been emblazoned on his memory. They shared a childhood. They shared their past.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Murder Tightly Knit by Vannetta Chapman. Copyright © 2014 Vannetta Chapman. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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