Murder, Plainly Read (Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series #4)

Murder, Plainly Read (Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series #4)

by Isabella Alan

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451475022
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/06/2015
Series: Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series , #4
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 156,247
Product dimensions: 6.70(w) x 4.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Isabella Alan is the national bestselling author of the Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries, including Murder, Handcrafted; Murder, Plainly Read; Murder, Served Simply; Murder, Simply Stitched; and Murder, Plain and Simple. An academic librarian for a small college in Ohio, she grew up visiting the state’s Amish country with her family. As Amanda Flower, she is the author of the Agatha Award–nominated Maid of Murder as well as the Magical Bookshop Mysteries.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

“Whoa!” Rachel Miller called to her buggy horse. The buggy shuddered to a stop behind a yellow school bus. Three Amish children climbed in. The youngest boy’s Spider-Man backpack bounced as he disappeared through the door. I smiled. Clearly, he was a member of one of the more liberal Amish districts in Holmes County. A year ago, who’d have ever known that I would be able to know the difference? When I first moved to Millersburg, I had thought, like so many outsiders, that all Amish were the same.

Next to me on the buggy’s bench seat, Rachel’s bonnet cast a shadow over her delicate features. “It shouldn’t be too long now,” Rachel said. “Austina telephoned the bakery to tell me the bookmobile would be parked in front of Hock Trail School.”

Austina, a county librarian, had commissioned a quilt from my quilting circle for her ailing mother. The ladies finished the quilt during our meeting last night. It was a breathtaking purple, rose, and periwinkle blue Ohio Star. The colors weren’t traditionally Amish, but Austina had chosen them because they were her mother’s favorites. The quilt was so lovely, I almost wished I could keep it in the shop for display, but I thought that about every quilt my circle created. Each one seemed to be more beautiful than the last.

I scratched my faithful French bulldog, Oliver, between his ears. He leaned into my caress like a cat. I sighed. “I hate for the ride to end. This reminds me of leisurely buggy rides I would take with my aunt and uncle on Sunday afternoons. It’s nice to take a breath every so often and think about that time.” My throat tightened as I thought about my Amish aunt. She had been gone for over a year now, but every so often the pain of losing her was like a baseball bat to the chest.

The crease in Rachel’s brow smoothed. “Angie, you need to move at a slower pace. You are so busy with Running Stitch and being a township trustee. You need to take a breath. When was the last time you had a quiet evening with the sheriff?”

I found myself blushing like a sixteen-year-old girl. “It’s been a while. He has Zander, who needs his attention. I don’t begrudge Z at all. He’s a great kid. And now that my parents have moved to town, they’re taking up much of my time.”

After my father’s retirement, my parents had moved to Holmes County from Dallas to be closer to me, and my mother was in the middle of a colossal house renovation, the likes of which my Amish friends had never seen.

I zipped my jacket against the cool autumn wind whipping in through the buggy’s open windows. “The latest debacle has been over throw pillows for their living room couch. Please don’t ever ask me to help you choose a throw pillow. According to my mother, I’m not up for the task.”

Rachel chuckled. “Jonah told me your mother bought two chandeliers for the house.”

I rolled my eyes. “Jo-Jo exaggerated. There’s only one.”

Rachel’s horse turned the next corner. Half a mile down the road, I saw the silver-and-green library bookmobile parked in front of a one-room schoolhouse. A small swing set, slide, and metal teeter-totter were next to the bookmobile, but there weren’t any children in the playground. In fact, I didn’t see any children at all. I frowned. It was autumn and school was in session. I was about to ask Rachel about it when my friend whispered, “Oh dear.”

“What—” I started to ask, but soon my question was answered. Austina Shaker stood in front of her bookmobile with her arms folded across her chest. Her right foot jutted out, and she leaned back into her stance as if waiting for the perfect moment to throw a punch. Despite her bright pink cardigan and eyeglasses perched on the end of her nose, she looked more like a street fighter ready to go ten rounds with her opponent than a rural county librarian. The Amish man standing across from her appeared just as fierce, but I would categorize his look as more of an angry pilgrim than a street fighter. It was as if the crossing on the Mayflower hadn’t agreed with him.

Rachel’s horse came to a stop, and I hopped out. Oliver joined me, although he checked the area for incoming birds first. Oliver hated birds.

Behind me, Rachel said, “Angie, I don’t think you should—”

I glanced over her shoulder. “I won’t get involved. Don’t worry.”

My best friend sighed. She knew I was lying to her, and to myself, if I thought that was true.

From the doorway to the schoolhouse, children stared openmouthed at the arguing pair. Their wide-eyed teacher, a young redheaded girl who didn’t look a day over sixteen, watched with them.

The Amish man pointed a bony finger at Austina. “You have no right to be here. I strictly forbade you from coming. You have to leave the schoolyard immediately.”

Austina snorted. “You can’t tell me what to do. I’m not a member of your church.”

Rachel joined Oliver and me. We stood at the edge of the playground about four yards from where Austina and the Amish man argued. Austina was facing us, and I could see every expression that crossed her face. I saw only the back of the man’s head. He stood erect, as if there was a board hidden under his navy coat, and his black felt hat sat perfectly straight on his head.

“Do you know who the man is?” I whispered to Rachel.

My friend nodded. “That’s Bartholomew Beiler. He’s the bishop of the strictest Old Order district in the county.”

I frowned. “Do I know anyone in that district?”

“Joseph Walker was a member.” She watched me out of the corner of her eye.

I grimaced. Joseph Walker was an extremely conservative Old Order Amish man I’d met when I’d first moved to Holmes County and who I later found dead in the stockroom of my quilt shop. I didn’t have a lot of good memories where Joseph Walker was concerned.

The bishop glowered at Austina. “You’re interfering with the members of my church, and you have no right to do it. I, with Gotte’s guidance, am the one who should be telling them how to live, not the books you insist on giving them.”

“You act like I’m peddling vacuums door-to-door. Your church members come to me. They ask for them. All I’m doing is providing books to patrons to read. It’s my job.”

“It’s disrespectful to our culture.”

The librarian arched her left eyebrow. “I will not censor. Now, I think it’s time for you to leave.”

The bishop shook with anger. His hands balled into fists. He wouldn’t hit her. It was not the Amish way. At least, I hoped he wouldn’t.

Austina stuck out her chin as if inviting a blow from Bartholomew.

Slowly he relaxed his hands, and his arms fell loosely at his sides. His voice was low. “You will be sorry you ever drove that monster”—he pointed at the bookmobile—“into my district. You think you have the Englisch law on your side, but I have Gott on mine. We will see who has the last word when this comes to an end.” He stomped away, straight for Rachel and me.

We jumped to the side, and Oliver dove under the teeter-totter. Bartholomew didn’t even acknowledge us. His pockmarked face was molten red. I suspected he saw red too. The young schoolteacher and children in the doorway jumped back into the schoolhouse and closed the door.

Austina smiled as if his threat meant nothing to her and she hadn’t single-handedly run him out of the schoolyard herself. After a moment, she noticed Rachel and me hovering nearby. Her round face broke into a smile. If I hadn’t witnessed it myself, I would have never known she’d been yelling at someone just a moment ago. “Angie, Rachel, I’m so glad you’re here. Did you bring the quilt?”

“Of course, the quilt.” Rachel slapped her head with her hand. “I left it in the buggy. I will go collect it now.”

“That looked intense,” I said after Rachel left.

Austina waved my concern away. “If you’re referring to Bartholomew Beiler, he is nothing to worry about.”

He sure looked like something to worry about to me. You wouldn’t see me going toe-to-toe with an enraged Pilgrim, especially this close to Thanksgiving.

The librarian started back toward the bookmobile. “Don’t wrinkle that cute little nose of yours at me, Angie. Bartholomew is a blowhard. He isn’t the first Amish bishop I’ve argued with about my books, and I doubt he will be the last.”

Rachel returned with the quilt, and she and I unfolded it, holding it up for Austina’s inspection. Tears sprang to the librarian’s dark eyes. “Oh, it’s more gorgeous than I imagined it would be. Mother will love it.” She ran her tapered fingers over a rose triangle in the design.

“I’m glad,” I said as Rachel and I refolded the quilt.

Rachel took the quilt from my hands. “Where would you like me to put it?”

“Put it on my desk inside the bookmobile.”

Rachel disappeared inside the mammoth vehicle.

I cocked my head. “So what was the bishop so upset about?”

“I didn’t think you would let me drop the subject that quickly,” Austina said. “He’s mad about the books I provide and believes I’m corrupting his followers with new and scandalous ideas. Small men always fear new ideas.”

Rachel tripped down the bookmobile steps. Her lips were set in a thin line. She was open-minded, but she was still Amish and believed in that way of life.

“He wants to take away your books?” I asked.

Austina shook her head. “He wants to keep them out of his district. I guess he caught some of the teenage girls reading romances and flipped out.” She snorted. “They weren’t exactly steamy. I mean, maybe the characters shared a smooch at the end of the book. Nothing more.”

“What are you going to do?”

Oliver wriggled out from under the teeter-totter and was now inspecting the bookmobile’s tires.

“I don’t censor. If a teenager from his district comes to me looking for a novel, I will give it to her. It’s not my position to tell people what to read. In my business, any reading is good.”

Rachel looked as if she wanted to argue, but my Amish friend was far too polite to do it. Instead she said, “I think we should be on our way, Angie. Aaron will be wondering what’s taking me so long.”

“Before you leave,” Austina said, “I have another job for you, Angie.”

That sounded ominous. “Oh?” I squeaked. By her tone, I doubted it was another quilt.

“Yes. Stella Parsons, the chair of our Friends of the Library board, had the nerve to break her hip and now she can’t manage our library book sale this month.”

“She broke her hip?!” Rachel exclaimed. “Is she all right?”

“She’ll be fine,” Austina said. “As soon as she gets out of traction.” Her dark eyes zeroed in on me. “Angie, I want you to take over for her.”

I pointed at myself. “Me? Why me?”

“Because you are the best person for the job, according to head township trustee Caroline Cramer,” she said matter-of-factly. “When I spoke to her about needing someone to take on the job, she suggested you right away.”

I bet she did.

“Isn’t there someone else in the Friends who can take this on?” I asked. “I’ve never run an event like this before. Your Friends are the ones with the experience.”

She shook her head. “Most of them are pushing eighty, and the ones that aren’t, I wouldn’t trust with a kid’s lemonade stand, let alone a library book sale.”

“B-but—” I stammered.

She jabbed her fists into her sides and looked as fierce as she did when she was staring down the irate bishop. “Don’t tell me you won’t do it. You’d be letting the entire county down.”

I rolled my eyes. “That seems like a gross exaggeration.”

She picked a piece of lint off of her cardigan. “It could be great publicity for your quilt shop.”

She had me. I was always trying to grow my business. “When and where will it be?” I asked in a whimper.

Austina’s lips curled into a small smile. She knew she was the victor. She’d had the same triumphant expression on her face when she’d shooed the bishop away. I wondered how long that smile would remain.

Chapter Two

Austina folded her arms. “It’s this weekend. The bookmobile will be parked outside the main library in Millersburg.”

Rachel made a small sound.

Both Austina and I looked at her.

She gave us a small smile, but I noticed the tightening around my soft-spoken friend’s mouth.

“Rachel, what’s wrong?” I asked.

“Nothing.”

I put my hands on my hips and waited.

She sighed. “This weekend is the grand opening of the factory, and I wanted you to be—”

I smacked myself in the forehead. That’s right. The Miller’s Amish Pie Factory grand opening was that Friday and Saturday. I couldn’t miss it. Not only was Rachel my best friend, but I had been tricked into being a township trustee to save the factory. It didn’t seem fair that I would miss the main event or the pie. I deserved a piece of pie or two after what I had been through to see the factory up and running. “Austina, if the book sale is the same weekend as the Millers’ pie factory grand opening, I can’t do it. I need to be there to support my friends.”

Rachel’s brow cleared, and I knew that I’d made the right decision. Caroline Cramer would have to suggest someone else to take over for the lame Mrs. Parsons.

Austina wasn’t giving up that easily. “What if the book sale came to you?”

Rachel cocked her head, unknowingly tilting it at the same angle as Oliver at our feet. “What do you mean?”

“What if we have the book sale at the pie factory? The book sale can be anywhere. The bookmobile is mobile after all.” She tapped a finger to her cheek. “I like it. Rolling Brook Township is too small for a library branch of its own. What better place to have the bookmobile book sale than in one of the communities that we serve?”

I knew that Rachel’s private husband, Aaron, would hate this idea. “I don’t—” I started to interrupt her.

She kept talking as if she never heard me say a word. “There’s plenty of parking there. The parking lot that your husband had built is huge. We could set up a tent as well. I’m really liking this idea.”

“Won’t the library have a problem with a change of venue?” I asked.

“The bookmobile is mine to do with what I please. My director has no interest in it whatsoever. If I told her I wanted to park the bookmobile on Mars, she’d shrug.”

I looked to Rachel. “How would Aaron feel about this?”

Rachel pursed her lips together. “He won’t like it at first, but I will talk to him. I think it might be a great way to bring some extra attention to the pie factory. That’s what Aaron ultimately wants. I’m sure he will see that after we talk.”

I wasn’t as sure, but Rachel knew her husband. Maybe she was right.

I twisted my mouth. “If you can move the book sale to the pie factory, we have a deal.”

She adjusted her glasses on her nose. “Consider it done. In fact, I will park the bookmobile there tonight, so it’s all ready to begin setup tomorrow. Why don’t you meet me there at eight thirty tomorrow morning, Angie? Then we can talk details.”

I winced. I was not a morning person, but since Austina had so readily agreed to change location, I didn’t think I could fuss over the meeting time. “All right—”

My response was interrupted by the sound of screeching tires as a hearse-sized mustard yellow sedan came to an abrupt stop on Hock Trail in front of the bookmobile. Our mouths fell open as dust settled around the car and a large and disheveled woman got out. She didn’t even pause to close her door before stomping straight at us.

Oliver whimpered and dashed back under the teeter-totter.

The woman pointed a crooked finger at Austina. “You! You ruined me! You had no right.”

Rachel and I gaped at each other.

Austina held up her hands. “You aren’t allowed near library property.”

“Because of you!” the woman yelled.

I glanced over my shoulder at the school. If those kids thought the bishop had been frightening, they must be hiding under their desks listening to this.

“I’m going to ask you to leave,” Austina said in her best don’t-mess-with-me-I’m-a-librarian voice.

The woman licked her lips. “You are so smug, but I’m going to wipe that smirk off your face. Just you wait.” She dropped her arm and stomped back to her car.

After she sped away, Rachel and I turned back to Austina for an explanation, but none came.

Finally, I was forced to ask, “What was that all about?”

Austina brushed off her sleeves as if casting the Amish bishop and the mystery woman aside. “Not my problem anymore. She used to be my problem, but she’s not anymore.” She smiled. “Angie, I will see you at eight thirty tomorrow.” With that, she walked into the bookmobile and closed the door.

As we walked back to Rachel’s buggy, she said, “Englischers,” and shook her head.

I laughed, just as she expected I would, and I tried to put the thoughts of Bartholomew Beiler and the unknown crazy woman out of my mind. Austina claimed they weren’t her problems, and they certainly weren’t mine. I had bigger ones at the moment.

On the ride back to Rolling Brook, I chewed on my lip. What was I doing organizing a library book sale? How do I get myself into these things? Oh, I know. I can never say no. At least not convincingly. I would have thought that, by age thirty-five, I would have grown a backbone. Not so much.

The hooves of the Millers’ horse clomped onto Sugartree Street, the main road and center of business in tiny Rolling Brook. Oliver wriggled out from under the seat as if he knew we were almost back to the shop. I knew by his frantic movements that he was anxious to see my one-year-old cat, Dodger. Even though Dodger was full grown and as solid as a mountain lion, Oliver still believed him to be his baby brother who needed constant supervision and guidance. He was probably right, since Dodger still thought he was a kitten despite weighing a hardy twelve pounds.

I reached down to pat his head. “I’m sure Mattie has taken great care of Dodger, Oliver.”

Oliver tilted his chin at me as if to say, Yeah, right.

I couldn’t blame him. At best, my assistant, Mattie, and Dodger ignore each other. At worst, it’s a chase scene out of a cop movie, Mattie being the irate cop and Dodger the jubilant thief.

At the end of the road, the two-story redbrick pie factory was the largest building on the street. Over the last few days, the scent of the fresh pie permanently perfumed the air as the Millers prepared for the grand opening, making me instantly hungry. I was happy for Rachel and Aaron. Their dream pie factory would finally be a reality, but it wasn’t doing anything good for my waistline.

“Whoa,” Rachel murmured and pulled back on the reins to stop her horse as a minivan backed out of one of the diagonal spots in front of my beloved Amish quilt shop, Running Stitch. As the minivan pulled away, I groaned, because it revealed my mother’s small white sports car. My mother was the only person in Holmes County who would have such a low-riding car. It worked fine for her in Dallas but was totally impractical in rural Ohio with its harsh winters. Mom and Dad planned to stay in Holmes County through Thanksgiving, and then snowbird it to Dallas for the winter.

Rachel didn’t even bother to hide her smile as she directed her horse into the spot that the minivan had just left. “Did you know your mother was stopping by the shop?”

“No,” I grumbled.

It was late in the day, approaching four, when most of the businesses on Sugartree Street closed. Rachel pulled on the reins, stopping her mare and buggy at the hitching post in front of my shop. I made no move to exit the buggy. Both Rachel and Oliver stared at me.

“Is something wrong, Angie?” my sweet friend asked.

“I’m afraid it’s about throw pillows again. The last time I was with my mother we talked about throw pillows for a solid hour. The size, color, fabric. To get fiber filled or down. I couldn’t take it if I had to go through that again. I nearly suffocated in literal pillow talk.”

Rachel chuckled. “Angie, you are so silly.”

If she only knew. She hadn’t been there. With a dramatic sigh, I hopped out of the buggy. My prized cowboy boots made a satisfying clicking sound when their soles hit the pavement. Then I helped Oliver down. The Frenchie headed straight for Running Stitch. He wanted to check on Dodger, and wanted to check on Dodger right now.

Rachel secured her horse to the post, and I joined Oliver at the front door. Before I could open it, it swung inward. “Angie,” Anna Graber, a sixtysomething Amish woman whom I had known my entire life and who was a member of my quilting circle, greeted me at the door. “What are you doing standing there? Come on in.” She yanked me into the shop and would’ve slammed the door in Oliver’s face if Rachel hadn’t been right behind me to stop it.

“Anna, what on earth—” I stopped midsentence when I saw the state of the shop. On the cutting table there were three bolts of fabric in various states of unwrap. Dozens more bolts were on the floor in haphazard piles. Of the two hundred bolts of fabric that we have in the shop, nearly two thirds were pulled from their shelves.

My gray-and-white cat Dodger sat on one of the piles with a mischievous glint in his eye. Dodger relished in disorder of any kind. Oliver ran over to check on his feline charge. The adopted brothers touched noses. I would have awwed at the cuteness, if the state of my shop hadn’t stolen my ability to speak.

Rachel gasped. “What happened in here?”

My mother held up a scrap of damask fabric to Mattie. “No, this won’t do. Can I see a sample of the mauve?”

“Mom?” I squeaked. “What are you doing here?”

My mother turned to me. “Angie, there you are. What does it look like I’m doing? I’m shopping.”

“You’re going to buy all of this?” I waved my hand at the fabric on the cutting table and on the floor.

My mother sniffed. “Of course not.”

“Then why did you have Mattie pull nearly every bolt from the shelves? Look at this mess.”

“How else was I going to pick the fabric for the quilt in the guest bedroom?” Mom asked. “I had to know what the fabric felt like and how the colors looked up against each other.”

I sighed. “You could have walked up to them to feel them.”

“Angie.” My mother frowned. “In a shop such as yours, you need to make the customers a priority and go that extra mile in service. If this is how a customer like myself prefers to shop, you should allow it. If you don’t provide stellar service, how else do you compete with the other Amish quilt shops in the county, including Martha Yoder’s place next door?”

I bit down on the inside of my lip hard to avoid saying anything I might regret. Instead, I said, “Are you sure every fabric needed to be brought to you?”

“It’s okay,” Mattie said, coming back with the mauve damask. “I don’t mind, and I will clean it up, Angie. Don’t worry. Have you made your selections, Mrs. Braddock?”

My mother frowned. “I think the yellow muslin. Yes, that will be perfect for the roman shades I’m having made for that room.”

“That’s the fabric she wanted in the first place,” Anna muttered behind me.

Mom looked at me. “Don’t you think the muslin is nice? Also, I always liked yellow as a color for babies and children. It’s supposed to stimulate their thinking.”

“Children?” Anna asked. “What children?”

I wondered the same thing too, but was too afraid to ask.

“My grandchildren, of course.”

All three Amish women looked at me.

My face turned bright red. “There won’t be grandchildren anytime soon from me. I’m not pregnant.”

My mother sighed. “A mother can dream, can’t she? I have waited a very long time for a grandchild. All my friends back in Dallas have oodles of them.”

Who knew anything could be worse than the epic throw pillow conversation? I looked at the ceiling and allowed my eye to follow the faint crack in the plaster. I would have to ask Jonah to look at that and see if it needed to be patched. When I regained my composure, I said, “Mom, by the time I have kids, you will probably want a completely different color scheme for the baby’s room. I know you. And why would my fictitious kid have a room in your house anyway?”

“You never know what will happen. I want to be prepared. I’ll use the space as my reading room until the baby is born,” Mom said as she examined a piece of fabric.

My shoulders sagged. There was no point in arguing. Mom was just being Mom. She took interior design as seriously as I took keeping my shop afloat, which was why I found myself in another mess like organizing a book sale. I inwardly groaned.

My mother folded the samples Mattie had cut for her and tucked them in her fine-grain leather purse. “Angie, I’d expected you would’ve been here to help me with the selection. Since it wasn’t throw pillows, I thought I might depend on your advice.”

Throw pillows would be the death of me.

“Rachel and I went to deliver a quilt the circle finished last night,” I explained.

Mom hung her purse’s strap on her shoulder. “Yes, Mattie told me. She said that you went out to the bookmobile.”

Anna settled into my aunt Eleanor’s rocking chair. “Anything interesting happen?”

Rachel removed her large black bonnet, which she had worn during the buggy ride. “Angie is heading up the Rolling Brook library book sale, and it’s going to be in the pie factory parking lot to go along with the grand opening this weekend. Isn’t that wonderful?”

I squinted at her.

Rachel gave me a sheepish grin in return.

My mother spun around from the table where she was examining more fabric. “You are organizing a book sale?” she asked, as if Rachel had just revealed that I planned to give up the quilt shop and become an astronaut.

I frowned. “Sure. The person who was going to do it broke her hip, so I was the logical choice—at least as far as Caroline Cramer, the head township trustee, was concerned.”

“I can help,” Mom said, standing up straight and holding the fabric samples to her chest.

I froze, holding a bolt of fabric that I was about to return to its high shelf over my head. “Help?”

“Yes, I would love to help. I can already think of ways that we can get the community involved.”

I slid the bolt into place. “Umm, I don’t know. I know you’re busy remodeling the house.”

“That’s all well in hand, and I want to be useful.”

“What about the kids’ room?” I asked after adamantly denying that I was having children in the near future. I was that desperate to talk her out of working on the book sale with me.

She frowned and didn’t look at me.

I chewed on my lip. I knew my mother could do the work. In fact, the book sale would go much better with her. She was a drill sergeant when it came to organizing events, but she would drive me crazy in the process.

For the first time, I realized that my mother really did need to feel useful. When she was in Texas, she was involved in society life and organized a frightening number of children’s beauty pageants, a society event that sparked her interest when I was a little girl. And one that she stuck with long after it was clear I wasn’t going anywhere. I couldn’t sing, dance, twirl a baton, or fake a smile.

Mom left all of her friends and pageants behind for at least six months of the year for me. She wanted to be closer to me, even when I made it clear that I had no interest in moving back to Dallas because I had inherited my Amish aunt’s quilt shop.

I felt my quilting circle watching me. Talk about peer pressure. Of course a group of upstanding Amish ladies would make me feel guilty. “I’m sorry, Mom. I would love to have your help. In fact, I have a meeting with Austina—that’s the bookmobile librarian—tomorrow morning.” Restraining a sigh, I asked, “Would you like to come with me?”

Across the room, I felt Anna’s smile on me, and I knew I was doing the right thing, however painful it would end up being.

“Wonderful,” my mother said. “We’ll go to the meeting in the morning, and I think we could have a dinner to discuss it. I have been wanting to host a little dinner for you and the sheriff since the dining room has been done. What about tomorrow night?”

“I’ll check with Mitchell,” I said.

Mom pursed her lips. “And why do you call him Mitchell? He’s your boyfriend, not some drill sergeant.”

I frowned. “I’ve always called him that.”

Mom tsked. “Don’t you think it’s high time you started calling him by his Christian name?”

My Amish friends busied themselves with tidying up the shop. There was no way they wanted to join in this conversation.

Rather than fight with her, I said, “Mom, I will pick you up at eight tomorrow for the meeting.”

She didn’t even hear me. She was too busy mumbling a task list to herself.

Chapter Three

The next morning, Oliver and I were up bright and early. Dodger was not a morning cat and yawned from his post at the end of my bed. Oliver barked at him.

“Let him sleep,” I told the Frenchie. “He’ll get in less trouble that way. Besides, we have to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s this morning. You know we can’t take Dodger there after he went jungle cat on Grandma’s new settee.”

Oliver wagged his stubby tail as if he understood every word, which of course I believed he did. My dog was that smart.

Dodger watched me with one eye before curling into an even tighter ball. Maybe he could understand English too. I wouldn’t be surprised if Oliver taught it to him.

An hour later, Oliver stood with his white forepaws on the dash of my little SUV as we made our way up the hill to my parents’ house. The home was a stone two-story affair and was larger than most of the Amish businesses in Rolling Brook. Below it, the hillside, peppered with sheep from a neighboring Amish farm, rolled into the valley below. Mums and autumn sedum decorated the walk from the driveway to the double front door.

Oliver wiggled his tail as he hopped out of the passenger side. He loved visiting my parents. I suspected that most of his excitement came from anticipating the tasty treats my father would sneak to him. Neither one of them could ever say no to a treat.

The front door opened even before we were out of the car. Dad filled the doorway. His round tummy hung over his belt, and he grinned from ear to ear.

My Frenchie galloped to my father and placed his paws on Dad’s leg.

Dad leaned over and gave him a good scratch between his one black and one white batlike ear. “I bought some new beef jerky. Don’t tell your mom.”

“I heard that,” I said as I came up the cobblestone walk.

Oliver put all four paws on the ground.

Dad wrinkled his nose. “Heard what? I didn’t say anything.” He pointed at Oliver. “Did you?”

I jabbed my hands into my hips. “I heard something about the beef jerky.” I looked from one to the other. “Which neither of you should have.”

Dad winked at Oliver.

I sighed. They were both hopeless.

Dad stepped through the front door and led us into the foyer. The chandelier that Jonah had mentioned sat in a huge crate in the middle of the floor waiting to be hung. Mom insisted that every formal foyer must have a chandelier, and she had spent months picking this one for their Holmes County home. It was smaller than the chandelier in my parents’ home back in Texas, but everything was bigger in Texas and rightfully so.

Oliver wagged his stubby tail as Dad slipped him a piece of the promised beef jerky from his pocket. I pretended not to notice and tried not to be alarmed that he carried it around in the breast pocket of his oxford shirt like a stick of gum.

Mom came down the main staircase in a royal blue business suit and black pumps that probably cost more than my monthly rent. She had a matching black briefcase tucked under her arm. “Angie, good—you’re right on time.” She checked the gold watch on her wrist as if to make sure that was true.

“Umm, Mom,” I said. “You look really nice, but you do know we’re just meeting with Austina to talk about the library book sale at her bookmobile. Don’t you at least want to change your shoes? It rained last night. Didn’t I tell you yesterday to wear comfortable shoes?”

“These are comfortable,” she said.

Sure they were.

My mother sniffed and touched the sleek chignon at the back of her head. “You have to look like you mean business when you go into a meeting like this, even if it’s volunteer work. A good outfit garners respect in negotiations.”

Negotiations? What negotiations? Where should the Westerns go?

I looked down at my cords and denim jacket, which I wore over my favorite French bulldog sweater. I had found the sweater online at seventy percent off. “If you say so.”

She sighed as if she had given up on trying to talk me into a proper wardrobe long ago.

Actually, a year before, when I had worked as a graphic designer for a high-powered advertising firm in Dallas, I had my share of power suits and fancy shoes. But, unlike Mom, I had always felt like I was wearing a costume. The casual look suited me better, and since I owned my own business, I could wear whatever I wanted. My one compromise to fashion were my beloved cowboy boots. I was even wearing them now. When I got up that morning, I knew I was going to need them since I was going to be stuck between Austina and my mother during the planning of the book sale.

After a lifetime as an executive with ironed pleats, Dad wore jeans and an untucked button-down shirt. His clothing choices made my mother’s right eye twitch.

“You look beautiful,” my dad told my mother.

She beamed, and I couldn’t help but smile. It was nice to know that love could last forty-plus years. My parents were the proof of that. I hoped I’d find the same thing someday. With one broken engagement under my belt, I wasn’t having much luck. My thoughts turned to Sheriff James Mitchell, but I pushed them away because I didn’t want to jinx anything. I could fret over the status of our relationship later with a vat of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.

My dad wrapped me in hug. “What’s wrong, AngieBear?”

I squeezed him back. “Nothing is wrong. I mean, other than the fact that I got roped into organizing another township function.”

He squinted at me suspiciously. “Well, I’m glad that you’ve involved your mother in it. It was all she talked about last night.”

Mom tugged on the bottom of her jacket, as if making sure it was perfectly straight, and arched her brow at my father. “You want to lend a hand?”

He waved her question away. “Oh no—you girls go and enjoy yourself. I will putter in my workshop before the day is out. Jonah was over here last night and taught me how to use the lathe.”

Mom looked as if she wanted to say something more but thought better of it. She was the one who’d told my dad to find a hobby. She’d just never expected power tools would be involved.

Dad patted my shoulder. “Your chair is almost done. Jonah gave me some tips about reinforcing the legs.”

“Thanks, Dad,” I said, trying to sound upbeat. The last chair my father had tried to make me had fallen apart the moment I sat on it. I had the bruises to prove it.

“I’m glad James will be joining us for dinner tonight. I haven’t seen him in a while,” he said. “I hope you and your mother will have a story to entertain us both during the meal.”

What I didn’t know then was we would have a very thrilling story to tell.

As Mom climbed into my car, I shot a quick text to Mitchell telling him about dinner at my parents’ house that night. I mentally smacked myself on the head. I’d forgotten to tell him about the dinner when my mom first invited us the day before.

Almost immediately, my phone beeped. “I’ll be there,” the return text read.

I opened the door and Oliver hopped into the back of the car. He circled twice on the backseat before settling on the flannel blanket I kept back there for him.

Mom straightened her knee-length skirt as she settled into her seat. “You know, the bookmobile used to visit school when I was a little girl. We didn’t have a library in the building back then.”

I put my keys in the ignition. “I didn’t know that.”

“Your father would always carry my stack of books home for me after library day.” She smiled.

Sometimes I forgot that my mother and father were high school sweethearts and knew each other since they were schoolchildren. I wondered what that would be like. Mom and Dad knew everything about each other’s history. I knew so little about Mitchell. There were so many blank spots in my knowledge of his personal history. I hadn’t even met his parents yet. They’d retired to Florida. Although at least I knew his son, Zander, well, and his ex-wife, Hillary, was sort of my friend—okay, maybe “friend” was pushing it—but we didn’t want to claw each other’s eyes out on sight.

The drive from my parents’ house to the pie factory took less than twenty minutes. I was grateful for the short drive. The entire time, my mother shared her “great” ideas for the book sale, and I grew more anxious by the second.

I powered down my window as we rolled along Sugartree Street. The township was just waking up. The only business with its lights on was Miller’s Amish Bakery right across the street from Running Stitch. Rachel and her husband would have been at the bakery for hours preparing fresh breads, pies, and other baked goods for the day. My car slowed. I could really use a blueberry muffin to survive this meeting.

Mom noticed. “There’s no time for snacks, Angie. We don’t want to be late.”

Oliver and I sighed in tandem. Sometimes I thought we shared the same spirit, at least when it came to muffins.

Beyond Running Stitch and the bakery were yarn and woodworkers’ shops. Finally the sidewalk ended, and we turned into the huge parking lot for the pie factory. The factory itself was a one-level L-shaped brick building. The parking lot was as large as the sprawling building itself. The silver-and-green bookmobile and a small compact car, which I assumed was Austina’s, were parked in the farthest corner from the factory entrance under a large oak tree. Over a year before, an old abandoned barn had occupied this property. It had burned to the ground, but I was glad to see the majestic tree had survived the fire and the new construction.

Other than the bookmobile and Austina’s car, the parking lot was empty, since Rachel and Aaron were at the bakery and the factory hadn’t opened yet. In less than a week, the pie factory would surely be one of the busiest businesses on the street. Rachel said they were already processing orders for restaurants and shops all over Holmes County and beyond. I was happy for my friends. It took a lot of convincing to have the township trustees concede to the factory. Some of them were still unhappy with the final decision.

I stepped out of the car and wrapped my scarf a third time around my neck. There was definitely a cold bite in the wind, reminding me that winter would arrive sooner than any of us liked. Maybe it was the cold wind, but a chill ran down my spine as I opened the back door to my car and let Oliver out. Noting the chilly temperature, I wondered whether I should have made him wear one of his winter sweaters.

“Where is Austina?” Mom asked.

“She’s probably inside the bookmobile, where it’s warm.”

My mother wrapped her thin arms around her waist and shivered. “The least she could do is come out to meet us.”

I silently agreed. My apprehension rose since Austina didn’t appear in the doorway to the bookmobile. It was too quiet. She must have heard my car drive up in the stillness. I swallowed and walked toward the bookmobile. Mom and Oliver were on my heels. “Austina!” I called.

A sound between a grunt and a whimper came from the bookmobile.

I frowned. “Mom, stay here.”

“Why?” she asked.

I couldn’t think of a good answer other than, “I want to make sure Austina is ready for us, that’s all.”

She frowned at her watch. “It’s eight thirty. She should be ready for us.”

“Mom. Please?”

She sniffed and pulled the wool sleeve of her peacoat over her watch. “All right, but I hope I don’t have to wait out here in the cold too long.”

I managed to stop myself from rolling my eyes. It was a habit I was trying to break. “Oliver can stay with you.”

My Frenchie plopped down next to my mother’s feet on the pavement as if on guard. He wasn’t very intimidating security, but I appreciated the effort.

I climbed the steps to the bookmobile and knocked on the metal door. There was no answer.

I tried the door handle, and the door swung inward. The inside of the vehicle was bright. All the lights were on. Spotlights focused on the dark corners, so that the book titles and call numbers could be easily read by the library staff and patrons.

“Austina?” I called out as I scanned the area.

The small circulation desk at the back of the bookmobile was clear, and the small worktable behind the passenger seat was stacked high with books in the middle of being priced for sale. The bookmobile was ready for a day of literary business—except for the dead body in the middle of the aisle, lying on its side in front of the cookbooks.

Bartholomew Beiler had not been an attractive man alive, and he looked even worse dead. There was a deep gash on his forehead. His right arm was outstretched as if he’d been reaching for something. I turned away before I could see how much blood had pooled and soaked into the carpet.

Trembling from head to foot, Austina loomed over the body. “This—it’s not what it looks like.”

What did it look like? my addled brain wondered. It looked like Austina was standing over the dead body of a man who I had witnessed her in a heated argument with less than twenty-four hours before. What was it supposed to look like? That she’d murdered her adversary? Because it just might. I opened and closed my mouth, but no words came out.

Austina stammered words I couldn’t understand. “I got here five minutes before you and found him this way—I swear it.” Her dark eyes pleaded me with. “Angie, you have to believe me that I had nothing—absolutely nothing—to do with this.”

Then my mother stepped into the bookmobile and screamed.

Chapter Four

I always thought my mom was meant to be an actress. Her bloodcurdling scream à la Fay Wray in King Kong proved me right. I would probably need my eardrum replaced when the ringing stopped.

I rubbed my ear. “Mom, geez, calm down.”

“Calm down?” she screeched. “That’s a dead body! Not everyone is used to seeing dead bodies, Angie.” She gave me a pointed look.

True. I had seen my share of dead bodies since moving to Ohio. I didn’t find them. They seemed to find me. Or maybe I just had really bad luck.

“We need to leave the bookmobile and call the police.” I turned to my left. “Austina, have you called the police?”

She shook her head dumbly.

Mom crept a few feet farther into the bookmobile and peered down at Bartholomew, showing me that she was made of sterner stuff than I’d thought. “Are you sure he’s dead? Shouldn’t we check?”

He sure appeared dead when I first entered the bookmobile, but Mom was right. We needed to be certain. If there was any chance we could save the bishop, we had to try.

I dared to take another look at Bartholomew. His face was drained of all color. I averted my eyes from the gash. “I think he’s dead.” But just to be safe, I squatted beside him and touched his neck, looking for a pulse, careful to touch a place free of blood. His skin was stone cold. “He’s dead. Let’s go.” I jumped up like a coiled spring.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for the Amish Quilt Shop Mystery series:

“A satisfyingly complex cozy.”—Library Journal

“Alan captures Holmes County and the Amish life in a mystery that is nothing close to plain and simple.”—Avery Aames, Agatha-award winning author of the Cheese Shop Mysteries

Customer Reviews

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Murder, Plainly Read 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
gmcootie More than 1 year ago
Murder, Plainly Read by Isabella Alan is the fourth book in the Amish Quilt Shop Mystery series. Angela Braddock is the owner of Running Stitch, the quilt shop in Rolling Brook, Ohio that she inherited from her Amish aunt. Although an Englischer, Angie did grow up in Rolling Brook and has deep respect for and ties to the community, and many friends there. However, she also has the misfortune of getting involved in murders with a nose for solving them. Her boyfriend is the local Sheriff and not too pleased with her involvement – read meddling – and the danger she gets herself into. But she is loyal and caring when it comes to her friends and wants to see justice done, so keeping her nose out of things is not an option. She inevitably dives right in. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and it was the first one in the series I have read. I was able to pick right up with the characters and setting, but I would like to go back to the beginning to see Angie’s return to Rolling Brook and learn more about the fascinating characters that surround her, including her faithful French bulldog Oliver and Petunia the goat. I’d also like to know more about Angie’s mother. She is pretty overbearing and controlling and I am hoping Mother may be put in her place in the future. Angie is busy enough with her quilt shop and her job as a town trustee, but she agrees to help with an upcoming book sale. Once murder happens she not only has to manage the book sale but solve the murder. Be ready for the local bookmobile to play quite a role in the story. Murder, Plainly Read was an enjoyable read. In addition to the solid mystery that I wasn’t able to solve too early and the fascinating, funny cast of characters, the interaction between the Amish and the Englischers was very interesting and enlightening. Their encounters are sometimes friendly, sometimes not so much, and it was fun to glimpse another way of life that may seem much simpler on the surface but has the same issues and problems with relationships and life in general we all have. If you want a good, cozy read with humor and an intriguing mystery, Murder, Plainly Read is for you.
Robin56 More than 1 year ago
Murder Plainly Read Isabella Alan Angie Braddock is back with her faithful companion Oliver, her French bulldog. Angie goes with her Amish friend Rachel Miller to deliver a quilt to Austina Shaker, the Rolling Brook bookmobile librarian. She witnesses a confrontation between Austina and Bartholemew Belier, an Old Order Amish bishop. It seems as if the Bishop is blaming Austina for distributing unfit literature to his sect. His threat to ruin Austina is sadly witnessed. The Rolling Brook Library’s annual book sale is approaching as well as the grand opening of the Miller Pie Factory and Angie Braddock has agreed to be involved with both of them. It was agreed that Angie’s mother would assist with the book sale so Angie could be available for both events. However prior to either event, the body of Bishop Belier is found dead inside the bookmobile. Austina Shaker is accused of killing him and arrested, but Angie doesn’t believe she could possibly do it. So Angie along with help of her quilting circle look for clues to who may have done the Bishop in. As always Angie is caught between her desire to solve the dirty deed and yet following her boyfriend, Chief Mitchell’s orders. Will she get the answer as to who is guilty and still keep her Chief Mitchell her steady?
Becky5 More than 1 year ago
What a Fun Amish Cozy!! really loved Murder, Plainly Read,part of The Amish Quilt Shop Mystery series. I have missed several books between the first and this, but had no trouble picking enjoying this one. Englischer Angie Braddock cannot keep her nose out of others' business, especially if it involves an Amish friend or two of hers. Can she outmaneuver her controlling, socialite mother; stay friends with her childhood friend, Jonah, whose wife hates her; and dig to find the truth without alienating the handsome Sheriff Mitchell? This is cozy reading at its best. Isabella Allen provides a murder, without tons of gore. We see a slice of Amish life, but also Englischer and Amish being friends. And did I mention the obligatory quirky characters? Love how distinctly odd some of Angie's friends and relatives are. Whether Willow, who owns a tea shop, has purple hair and makes horrible original teas; to Angie's mother who is clueless to what makes Angie tick, the supporting characters help make the mystery not just dangerous but also a barrel of laughs!! ( And don't forget Petunia the Goat!!) Well-done, Isabella (Amanda Flower)!! I have found a cozy series to love!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was chosen to review this book by Isabella Alan. I thoroughly enjoyed the informational background about the Amish community and how close the members of the community can be with few exceptions. There were many twists and kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next and what Angie gets herself into this time. I am a avid reader and I love reading books about book-related stories! The pets were probably another favorite part. I live how she takes her dog with her everywhere who's two close friends are a goat and a cat. An odd couple but they get along together.
centraleast22 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the next book in the Quilt Shop Mysteries and finding out what Angie was up to next. Angie finds herself in charge of the town's book rummage sale after the person who was in charge gets hurt. It is decided that they will use the bookmobile to help with the sale, but that soon turns out to not be an option when Bishop Belier is found dead on the bookmobile and the driver of the bookmobile is found standing over him. Angie soon finds herself not only having to figure out how to still have the sale, but also having to clear her friend's name in the murder. I love the characters in this series especially Angie's bulldog Oliver. It amuses me how he is treated and how he does not like birds, but is great friends with a goat named Petunia. Petunia is another great character and I would love to borrow her to do some lawn service at my house. I highly recommend this book and series. I received a copy of this book from the author to read and review.
MelinaM More than 1 year ago
This book grabbed my attention from the time I picked it up till I put it down. It is a very easy and fast read as it is so action packed that it kept me on the edge of my seat and turning the pages. This one kept me guessing. There were so many suspects with so many motives that I had no idea who the killer was till the very end. This book was well written with just enough about the Amish to be interesting but not overwhelming. The antics of Angie's Frenchie, Oliver will had me laughing out loud, so did Petunia the goat. This was my second trip to Rolling Brook and it definitely won't be my last. If you are looking for an engrossing, edge of your seat, well written book, then this is the book for you. This is also the book for you if you are an animal lover, there are many great animals in this book who make the story interesting. I received a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.
kayteerufus More than 1 year ago
What can I say about Murder, Plainly Read other than amazing, brilliant, and as great as always. It doesn't matter what name Isabella Alan/Amanda Flower writes under. They are all fabulous. Even if you have never read one of her Quilt Shop Mystery books, you will fall in love with this latest in the series. You can jump right in with Murder, Plainly Read and still feel like coming home. I am so happy to see Petunia is back for more fun. And one of my favorite characters has to be Anna. I love that two separate communities Amish and Englisch come together and work for the better of all of them. It is wonderful when the Amish ladies get a bit of spunk and help main character Angie Braddock find answers to who murdered cranky Bartholomew Belier, an Old Order Amish bishop. Not that there were not quite a few people who would have been happy he was gone, but the main suspect asks for help and swears her innocence. Librarian Austina Shaker says she did not do it. Angie wants to find the answers even if it means Austina is guilty. So with the help of her faithful French bulldog Oliver, her wonderful Amish friends and her new boyfriend sheriff Mitchell, they get to the truth. This series is just absolutely wonderful. It is everything anyone could want in a cozy! Good friends, great setting, fabulous characters, well written mystery, intrigue, you name and it was in Murder, Plainly Read. You really cannot go wrong reading a book by this fabulous author. I just wish I could give it more than 5 Stars!! I was given a copy of Murder, Plainly Read to give an honest and unbiased review.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Murder, Plainly Read by Isabella Alan is the fourth book in An Amish Quilt Shop Mystery series. Angela Braddock is the owner of Running Stitch a quilt shop in the town of Rolling Brook, Ohio. She inherited the shop from her Amish aunt about a year ago. Angie is also a town trustee. She is taking a quilt that her quilting circle made (customer order) to Austina Shaker, the librarian on the bookmobile. Angela gets roped into running the library sale that weekend (someone hurt themselves and cannot run it). When Angela shows up the next day, she finds Austina standing over the body of Bishop Bartholomew Beiler. Bishop Beiler was against the bookmobile and books in general. He felt that they would corrupt the people in his district. When Sheriff James Mitchell (and Angela’s boyfriend) shows up, he is not happy to see Angela at the scene of another murder (she does have a knack for finding dead bodies). Austina is the immediate suspect (she was standing over the body and no sign of forced entry). Austina asks Angela to investigate the murder and clear her name (actually insists). Anna Graber (a feisty Amish friend of Angela’s in her 60’s) loves investigating and tells Austina that they will take the case. Angela sets out to clear Austina’s name and find out who killed Bishop Beiler. Along the way Angela will have to deal with her interfering and overbearing Mother who decides to help with the book sale (and push Angela towards the alter). I found Murder, Plainly Read to be so much fun to read. There are times when you will be laughing out loud (especially from the antics of Angela’s mother). It was nice to revisit Rolling Brook, Angela, Anna, Mattie, Sheriff James Mitchell, and the rest of the characters. I found the mystery to be medium level (I solved it before I was halfway through the book) but the author did a good job leaving clues and trying to lead the reader down different paths. Murder, Plainly Read is well-written and is a pleasant way to while away a few hours. I give Murder, Plainly Read 4.75 out of 5 stars (since I was able to figure out the killer early in the book). I cannot wait for the next book in An Amish Quilt Shop series. I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley (and the author) in exchange for an honest review.
LisaKsBooksReviews More than 1 year ago
MURDER, PLAINLY READ is an excellent addition in the Amish Quilt Shop Mystery series. A truly enjoyable, clever story. Author Isabella Alan has done a great job of creating a fictional community that reads would want to visit or even live in, and characters you would like to call friends. This installment of the series flowed at a wonderful pace. Each page more enjoyable than the next. With a strong, developed plot, the writing was tight and on point. I was searching for answers right alongside of protagonist Angie Braddock. I won’t speak for Angie, but the reveal of the killer took me completely by surprise. Very well done. You don’t have to know how to sew or quilt to enjoy this book, though quilters will no doubt really enjoy it. Make sure to check out the back of the book for instructions on making an Amish quilted pumpkin, and for an excerpt of CRIME AND POETRY from the Magical Bookshop Mystery series by Isabella Alan, writing as Amanda Flower.
psoccermom More than 1 year ago
I have to say, I loved this book from start to finish. It is a wonderfully written, fun, mysterious and exciting cozy mystery. This is the first book in the Amish Quilt Shop Mystery series that I have read and it will not be the last. I plan on reading all of them. The characters are great. Angie is the Quilt Shop owner that has made great friendships with the Amish in Rolling Brook since inheriting the shop from her late aunt. She, with the help of her beloved dog Oliver and her quilting circle have been put in the middle of another murder mystery. Angie and her mother see a verbal altercation between the local grumpy librarian, Austina and the Old Order Bishop about books. He believes that all books, except the bible are from the devil and his order should not read them. The next morning Angie and her mother are to meet Austina at the bookmobile to discuss the book sale when they find the Bishop dead in the isle of the bookmobile. While her mother and her friend Willow are busy with planning the book sale, Angie and her circle of quilt friends are starting to ask questions to find out the killer before it is too late. Meanwhile, her boyfriend is not happy when he finds out that she is snooping in the case. Angie must decide if she is going to help her friend Austina or possibly damage her relationship with her boyfriend? What will the small community of Rolling Brook do after murder comes to town? Will Angie and her quilt circle find the killer before something bad happens to one of them? If you love cozy mysteries you will love this book. It really is a must read.
KMorgan73 More than 1 year ago
Who knew a murder mystery could be so fun? Isabella Alan writes a story that at the same time is hilarious and keeps you wondering who the murderer is. I don't think I have ever laughed so much while reading a book. Although I haven't read the three previous books in the series, I didn't have any trouble getting to know the characters. They are well developed and have their own quirky personalities. My favorite characters have to be Oliver, the French bulldog, and Petunia, the goat. These two had me in stitches with their antics. I also enjoyed the sometimes awkward relationship between Angie and her mother. The story moves at nice, steady pace giving the reader time to get to know the characters and the situations they find themselves in. There is never a chance to be bored though as there is alway something going on. I really enjoyed the fact this was a light, fun book even though it was a murder mystery. Never have I been so entertained! This book has made me an Isabella Alan fan and I will be reading the first three books in this series. I will be anxiously awaiting more books from her as I love her humor, wit, and writing style. If you are looking for a fun read, look no further than Murder, Plainly Read! I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion which I have given.
Kuzlin More than 1 year ago
The county librarian, Austina, commissioned a quilt for her mother which Angie and her friend Rachel agreed to deliver to her bookmobile, currently parked in front of the Hock Trail School. When they arrived, they witnessed a verbal altercation between Austina and an Amish man, Bartholomew Beiler, the bishop of one of the strictest Amish districts in the county.After he left, Austina convinces Angie to help with the upcoming library book sale, which is happening at the same time as the grand opening of Miller's Amish Pie Factory. When Angie's mother hears of the event, she volunteers to help and get the community involved...a process that Angie is definitely NOT looking forward to. But when she and her mother go to the bookmobile early the next day to discuss plans with Austina, they are horrified to find her standing over the dead body of Bishop Beiler. Once again, Angie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation, but is she so sure this time that Austina is innocent. With her boyfriend, Sheriff Mitchell, conducting the official investigation, she finds herself in a tricky spot. Can she help solve this murder or is she putting herself in danger. I have to admit that I am new to this series, having only read "Plainly Murder," the precursor to this series. However, it was very easy to slip into the lives of the main characters and follow the interactions between them. I loved the various animals and their assorted antics, including her pet dog, Oliver and her neighbor's goat, Petunia, with a bad habit of head butting Angie. There were enough murder suspects to keep you guessing until the end. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series, and have to go back and catch up on the first three books in this fun cozy series. Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
CozyMysteryLover1 More than 1 year ago
Autumn is blooming in Rolling Brook Township and the small Amish town is preparing for the opening of the pie factory. When Angie is asked to oversee the book fair, her mother steps in and soon decides the book fair will take place in the parking lot of the pie factory. Since the town is too small for its own library, it brings books to the residents via a bookmobile, with the book loving, book toting Austina at the wheel. Austina may love books, but not everyone loves her. The bishop doesn't want his members to be reading the kind of books carried to their community (or any books, really) by the library's bookmobile. With her big mouth and big attitude, Austina is the prime suspect in his murder, which happens to take place in her beloved bookmobile. Even though Angie's relationship with Mitchell, the local law enforcement official, is going well, she knows he won't be too happy with her snooping around in his investigation. How can Angie refuse to help her friend? Even though Angie knows talking to the Amish community will be difficult, she refuses to give up, for in her mind she knows Austina is not responsible for the murder. Angie does her best and soon begins putting the missing pieces together. When she remembers something she overheard, she knows she may not have to look much further than deep inside Amish community. Who knew reading would be cause for murder! Join Angie, Oliver, Rachel, Mattie and Anna in this wonderful addition to the series. You will laugh out loud as Petunia the goat continues to be a thorn in Angie's side. This is a definite 5 star book.