When the coffee shop manager is murdered in Middlebury’s Amish Artisan Village, two women from different walks of life must join together to solve the mystery.
Spring has arrived in Middlebury, Indiana, and Amber Wright is optimistic about the growing profit from her collection of Amish shops—until she receives a call that Ethan Gray is dead. Hurrying over to A Simple Blend, she finds a solitary hole in the front window and the store manager lying next to the espresso machine, dead from an apparent heart attack. All the money is still in his register.
When Amber hires a young Amish woman, Hannah Troyer, to take over the shop’s duties, the two women become fast friends—as well as amateur sleuths. The police believe Gray’s death is a by-product of vandalism, but Amber and Hannah aren't convinced.
Clues that don't add up, a neighbor who is pulled into the midst of the investigation, a town with secrets to hide, and a blossoming romance—all will combine to push Amber and Hannah into unfamiliar roles in order to reveal answers to the mysteries around them.
"Chapman's latest is a mix of mystery and romance with vivid characters, a realistic setting and themes of loss, trust and love." — Romantic Times, four-star review
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: VannettaChapman.com, Twitter: @VannettaChapman, Facebook: VannettaChapmanBooks.
Read an Excerpt
Murder Simply Brewed
an Amish Village mystery
By Vannetta Chapman
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2014 Vannetta Chapman
All rights reserved.
April 21, one week later
Hannah Troyer's Monday morning was off to a wonderful start.
She'd turned twenty-two the day before and was still feeling the joy of a new year. Nothing had gone wrong so far—no fights with her siblings, no disagreements with her parents, and no disastrous discussions with the two boys who seemed interested in courting her.
Everything was perfect.
She'd ridden her bicycle from her parents' home to the Amish Artisan Village, pedaling through the April morning along the Pumpkinvine Trail. The trail had been under construction by the town of Middlebury for some time. The portion that passed near her parents' home had been completed the previous year. She'd heard it would soon run from Elkhart all the way to Shipshewana. Although horses weren't allowed, it offered a wonderful path to travel while walking or biking.
The weather was cool but not cold. The green ash, American holly, and crab apple trees had all leafed out nicely into a dazzling display of green. She'd passed a few neighbors while riding—a few, but not too many. And she did feel pretty in her new lilac-colored dress and white prayer kapp.
Not that she was going to focus on her looks this year.
Vanity was a sin—one she struggled with of late, perhaps because of her age, or maybe because it seemed that boys suddenly acted differently around her. It wasn't so much that she thought she was beautiful. With her plain-colored brown hair, plain brown eyes, glasses, and too-thin build, she could best be described as average. She was fine with both being plain and being average, but she did realize that too often she focused on how she looked. It had been six months since she'd joined the church. That was an important day in her life. She'd confessed her faith in Christ before their congregation and vowed to follow the rules of their Ordnung.
So why did she struggle with vanity? She liked new dresses and pinning her kapp where a bit of her hair peeked through. Even the new glasses weren't bad. They were small brown frames with flecks of blue that made her eyes pop. She'd wanted the bright blue glasses but hadn't dared to buy them. They weren't simple at all.
As she pedaled into the Village parking lot, she tried to puzzle out her feelings. She loved their plain style of clothing, because it was how she'd always dressed. Wearing Englisch clothes had not been part of her rumspringa, though she had once tried to drive a car. That had been disastrous when she'd backed it into the tree near her friend's front porch.
No automobiles? No problem.
Plain clothing? Fine.
Hers was more a problem of attitude—braiding her hair different ways to see which was most attractive, choosing fabric with colors that accented her eyes, wondering if a small touch of blush and powder on her cheeks might help her look a tad bit older. She hadn't actually worn makeup, but she'd thought about it. The new glasses were something she needed because her prescription had changed. But the new frames? Those were a luxury that she'd paid for with the money she'd saved from her job.
Yesterday had been her birthday, and today was a new beginning. She did not want a guilty conscience worrying her as she began her twenty-second year. Or was it twenty-third? Birthdays always confused her. Was she ending a year or beginning one?
Her youngest sibling, Mattie, had turned two after Christmas. She had celebrated the end of her second year, which meant yesterday Hannah had celebrated the end of her twenty-second year. She was beginning her twenty-third year. The thought brought a huge smile to her face. Twenty-three had a nice ring to it.
She stored her bicycle in the shed behind the inn and set off on the path that circled the pond. Most of the buildings that made up the Village had been added on to the property as the business grew. The original buildings, the restaurant and inn, were located with easy access to the parking lot. The inn was the largest structure with the conference center addition attached to it. This building stretched across the entire northern end of the pond. Branching away and to the south was a concrete path that led around the tranquil water.
She'd seen pictures from years ago, pictures that were framed and hanging on the wall in the inn's lobby. Back then the pond had looked like something in a farmer's pasture. Weeds grew high around it and cows grazed nearby.
Now there was the path circling the pond with trees that provided shade, and the grounds crew kept the bushes trimmed and the grass cut. The six shops began at the inn and stretched halfway around the pond. The other half of the walk had benches where guests could rest. If you walked the entire thing, which only took ten minutes at the most, you ended up right back at the center of the complex, near the inn and the restaurant.
She could have taken a shortcut from the parking lot, through the lobby of the inn, and back out the far door. But the April sunshine beckoned her outside. She enjoyed working in the quilt shop on the far side of the pond. Carol Jennings managed the Quilting Bee. She was a fair boss, if a bit strict.
Hannah was used to strict, so she had no problem with her boss's rules. One rule was that the shop must be opened by eight a.m. on the dot, which meant Hannah had to arrive at seven thirty. There was the display board to set out on the walk. The music needed to be turned on, filling the shop with the tunes Carol insisted had been proven to soothe shoppers and put them in a buying mood. Any dusting had to be done before the door was opened because Carol wanted her clerks to give complete attention to customers.
The concrete path that skirted the pond was completely empty. Several of the stores did not open until eight thirty or even nine. Hannah had the morning walk to herself. She enjoyed the sweet moments of solitude. Occasionally she peeked at her reflection in the shop windows. When she did, she would smooth down her apron or adjust her kapp slightly. She rather liked being the one to open the shop. She enjoyed the moments of quiet before the day began.
No one else bothered to come so early.
No one except old Ethan Gray, who would have arrived ahead of her. His shop, A Simple Blend, was the last in the line that circled the northern and eastern sides of the pond. The shop practically adjoined theirs. Only a small grassy area separated the two buildings. All day, Hannah smelled kaffi and lattes and espresso. All day, Englischers strolled to the end of the line of shops to purchase Ethan's drinks. Once they had their first quota of caffeine firmly grasped in their hands, some of those customers would blink twice, notice the Quilting Bee was open, and walk inside.
Hannah unlocked the front door of their shop and hurried to the back room. She still had twenty minutes to prepare for opening, but she would rather be ready a minute early than a minute late. Mrs. Jennings had told her more than once, "Hannah, you do everything I ask and you complete the task early. You're a gut girl."
Her boss wasn't Amish, but sometimes the Pennsylvania Dutch words they used slipped into her vocabulary. Perhaps she'd lived among the Amish for so long, she was almost Amish.
The next twenty minutes passed quickly. She made sure there was plenty of change in the cash register. Checked the roll of register tape and checked that there was an extra under the counter. Turned on the music and dusted the shelves of their bookcase, which held quilting books. Where did so much dust come from? Hadn't she done the same thing two days ago?
Satisfied that everything was ready, she walked to the front door and turned the sign to "Open." The temperature was supposed to rise to the low sixties, so she propped the door open with a life-size iron cat. Then she moved their Daily Specials board out in front of their display window. It was a chalkboard, like the ones in her old schoolhouse, but built on an A-frame. Each day Carol had different items on sale so that customers staying several nights at the inn would return. The board currently declared, "Fat Squares for Spring—Starting at $1.29."
She pushed up her glasses and pivoted in a circle, studying the walk, the pond, and then their shop. Something was wrong.
Hannah reached for the strings of her prayer kapp and ran her fingers from the tops to the bottoms. She again checked the sign. It looked fine to her. She glanced left and then behind her, but saw nothing out of place. Ducks were floating on the pond. A few customers had stepped out of the inn and were walking down to the water's edge. The Quilting Bee's display window sparkled—sunny and inviting, showcasing a pretty variety of spring fabrics.
So what was amiss?
Why was there a niggling doubt at the back of her prayer kapp?
She didn't smell Ethan's kaffi, which he always had brewing well before she arrived.
Stepping to her right and moving into A Simple Blend's front flower bed, which was a little muddy from the sprinklers, she pushed up on her glasses again and tried to peer through the front window. When she did, her mind had trouble piecing together what she saw.
There were several holes in the bottom left corner of the store's window, and cracks in the glass had webbed out in every direction.
What could have caused such a thing?
When could it have happened?
Her heart beat in a triple rhythm and her hands slicked with sweat as she moved closer. She again attempted to peer through the window, but it was like trying to look through broken eyeglasses.
Slowly, she continued past the window to the door and tried the handle.
It was unlocked!
Where was Ethan?
A dozen tiny spiders slipped down Hannah's spine. She slapped at her neck, then chided herself. There were no spiders. She was acting like a silly child.
Still, she whispered a prayer.
Of course the door was unlocked. It was nearly eight o'clock. It was time for them to begin their day, a perfect day up until this moment. Hannah chided herself again for hesitating. The shop was no longer locked because old Ethan was inside making kaffi, and soon she would smell its rich aroma drifting outside and down the sidewalk.
But the window ...
She pulled the door open, intending to step inside and call out to Ethan.
Which was when she saw him.
Her heart slammed against her chest and she stumbled backward.
Ethan lay slumped sideways over the front counter, one hand at his heart and the other resting on top of a spilled pile of dark kaffi beans. He'd never placed the beans into the grinder, and Hannah realized as she rushed to his side that he never would.
Ethan Gray was dead.
She stopped short of the body, stopped and prayed that he had found favor in God's eyes and that even now he was standing with the angels.
* * *
Amber Wright had been at her desk in her office on the second floor above the Village restaurant for nearly an hour when her cell phone rang. The switchboard didn't open until eight, but a recording directed visitors to dial nine for an emergency and she had any such calls forwarded straight to her cell. No doubt this was not an emergency, but whoever was calling probably thought it was, thought whatever it was couldn't wait until eight a.m. when the offices opened. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it could.
Years ago, when she'd first started the job as general manager of Amish Artisan Village, she'd learned that her only moments of uninterrupted quiet were from seven to eight in the morning. So when her phone rang at seven fifty-five, she was not happy. She'd been counting on that additional five minutes.
"Amber Wright." She aimed for a pleasant but busy tone.
"It's Ethan. Ethan is ... what I mean to say is he's ..."
The young girl on the other end of the line sounded frantic. Her voice trembled and her Pennsylvania Dutch accent was strong. So strong Amber had trouble making out what she was saying. The girl sounded as if she had been running. Amber could hear her panic loud and clear—more clearly than the words she was stumbling over.
"Who is this?"
"Hannah, but that doesn't matter. What matters is Ethan, and he's ..."
Amber's mind combed over the nearly five hundred employees and landed on a young Amish girl. "Hannah. You work at the quilt shop, correct?"
"Ya, but it's Ethan I'm calling about. He's—"
"Ethan Gray." Ethan had been at the Village longer than Amber had, and she'd been there more than two decades. She'd taken the job straight out of college. In all those years, she'd never heard anyone sound so desperate.
Now the girl's story came out in a rush, like a storm blowing down from Lake Michigan. "Ethan from the kaffi shop, ya. I noticed I couldn't smell kaffi yet, and I stepped over to check on him, and that was when I saw the glass. The glass was all cracked and I couldn't see through it. I opened the door, and I found him. He's ... he's dead."
"Hannah, I want you to take a deep breath." Amber was already logging off her computer and grabbing her tablet and ring of keys—the keys she never left her office without. There was no telling what room or closet she might need access to. They'd been meaning to master key the entire Village, so a single key would open any door, but it kept being pushed down her to-do list. Until then, she and Larry each carried a large ring of keys. The tablet she took with her out of pure habit. She typed all her notes on the tablet.
Amber pressed her cell phone tightly against her ear as she rushed out of her office. She wanted to keep the girl talking.
Her office assistant, Elizabeth, was at her desk in the reception area outside Amber's office. She was bent over, storing her purse in her bottom desk drawer, and all Amber could see as she rushed out was the top of the woman's gray head.
Elizabeth called out, "Something wrong?"
But Amber slowed for only a few seconds as she started down the stairs and then hollered up, "Call 9-1-1. Have them meet me at A Simple Blend. We need an ambulance." Then she fled down the remaining stairs and out the door into the hall of the restaurant.
Maybe Ethan had passed out.
Maybe he merely looked dead.
She prayed the girl was mistaken.
"Are you still on the line, Hannah?"
"Ya. I'm here."
"Where are you now?"
"In the quilt shop. I ran back to use our phone. I left him there. He's alone. Shouldn't I—"
"Hannah, you're doing great. You did the right thing. I want you to go next door and make sure his sign is turned to "Closed." Make sure no customers go into that shop. Do you understand?"
"Right. I'm on my way now. I can be there—"
It sounded like Hannah dropped the phone. Amber heard it clatter and could make out the sound of shoes slapping against the floor. She had intended to keep the conversation going in the hopes she could calm the girl down. But Hannah had done exactly as directed. No doubt she was headed next door to close the shop and stand guard at the door.
There was a moderate crowd in the restaurant, but few seemed to pay attention to her. One older Hispanic man held the outside door open as she rushed through it. The shops fanned out around the pond from the central point of the inn and restaurant. They made a nice little village—and the name Amish Artisan Village fit what she was staring at perfectly. The shops offered products made by local Amish men and women. Amber considered them all to be artists, whether they sewed quilts or made wooden toys or baked. She was proud of the fact that their stores offered original Amish goods and in the process helped to provide income for local families.
Inn with a conference center. Restaurant. Shops.
The Village had expanded over the years until now it circled halfway around the pond. Ethan had always worked at a coffee booth, which had originally sat next to the restaurant. A year ago, they'd moved him to a shop on the far side of the other shops, hoping the desire for a strong cup of coffee would lure shoppers as they strolled down the walk, which circled the pond. It had worked. Sales had been up 12 percent since they'd made the move. Some customers even skipped morning coffee at the restaurant and went straight to A Simple Blend.
But now something had happened, and she knew deep down that today she would have more to worry about than sales.
Excerpted from Murder Simply Brewed 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a great romantic suspense. Vannetta Chapman outdid herself by giving us not one but two romances. I enjoyed reading about Amber and Hannah as they grow in their unusual friendship, as they solve the Village mystery, and as they each fall in love (not with each other LOL). You don't have to be a coffee drinker to enjoy the book. :)
Murder Simply Brewed by Vannetta Chapman is a most enjoyable Amish story. Amber Wright is in charge of the Amish Artisan Village in Middlebury, Indiana, and is having a great day until she learns that one of the shop owners has been found dead. Hannah Troyer, a young Amish employee, finds Ethan Gray the owner of A simple Blend on the floor near the espresso machine and at first it appears that he died of a heart attack. Amber hires Hannah to take over the running of the coffee shop and the two become good friends while trying to solve the mystery of Ethan’s death for they are convinced that he was murdered. Amber and Hannah face several dangerous situations for someone does not want them to solve the mystery. Tate Bowman who owns the property next to the Village gets involved in trying to solve the mystery and he also finds himself drawn to Amber. Hannah is also learning that her friend Jesse Miler has feelings for her that are more than friendship. The author did an excellent job in the development of all parts of the story. One part that I personally did not like was when the boa constrictor came into the story for I have a great fear of snakes and that part of the story gave me the heebie jeebies. The way the Amish and Englischers worked together in this story was extremely well written and was a joy to read. Every character was very believable and every one of them came to life on the pages of the book. Scenes came to life and I could picture myself working right along with Amber and Hannah to solve the mystery of Ethan’s death. There were several twists and turns in the story and each one just added to my enjoyment of and interest in the story. I especially liked the way that God’s grace was evident throughout the entire story. This book has it all—Amish and Englischers working together, a murder mystery, and romance. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of Amish fiction for this story is an exceptionally good one. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
I figured out early the killer is, but I still enjoyed reading this book! It's not sickeningly romantic and it is a fun cozy mystery to read.
The book was a fun one to read. Not too long and a clean story. No swear words or filth.
A charming story of love developing between two seperate couples. A young couple learning about love, and an older couple finding love later in life. Throw in a murder and what could be better!
The story itself was good, however many times the author would mix up the characters, for instance in one chapter, Hannah lets the pastry man into the kafe shop, we read her thoughts and then suddenly its Amber in the kafe shop with him, and then back to Hannah, so it confuses the reader completely as to who is actually in the shop, when Amber is actually 2 miles away in her office. Also, in many scenes, we don't even know WHO the author is talking about, which character?? Whoever edited this book did a very poor job. Also, the ending was so incredibly stupid that I just stopped 10 pages before the end, it reminded me of something I would write as a 12 year old.
This book will not disappoint. Vannetta Chapman does it again with another winner!
This book was very good - i really enjoyed the storyline and look forward to the next book in the series
Vannetta, we gotta talk. Seriously. I mean who kills the barista?!? The giver of humanity! And in the first chapter. I was heartbroken. I mean, OK fine I didn’t know they guy, he wasn’t MY barista, but still. OK, fine he was kinda an antisocial jerky sorta guy, but he was the barista. You can’t kill the barista. But ya did. So now, we gotta figure this mess out. However, do not for one moment think that all is forgiven. Before I jump into all the ways I loved this book I want to share with you why I rated it only 4 stars. I mean, this book is amazingly well written and kept me guessing (for the most part – more to come later) throughout. However, there were two things I just couldn’t look away from. First, instalove. This particular situation can be argued either way but I’m sticking to my guns here. Amber and Tate. Yes, the knew of each other for years. Yes, they had met and dealt with issues before. However, they weren’t friends, they were barely acquaintances, and their previous interactions weren’t exactly of the friendship building variety. Tate acknowledged that they hadn’t even spoken in over a year when things started pelting off the fan blades. But in the short time they were thrown together to figure out who murdered the barista they were in love?!? Nope. Sorry. Instalove. Secondly, what in the world was the fascination with everyone’s body type and/or weight? Almost every single character description, mostly for the women but it was there across the board, included body type. I was almost able to overlook it. I came so close to over looking it. Until the end when Hannah’s mom was described again in relationship to her weight/body type. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive but it just felt like it was a bit obsessive. End rant. Now, we can talk story and good stuff. I want to start somewhere a little differently than normal and possibly create the most awkward paragraph I’ll write today. Hannah. There was this little detail that probably some people won’t really find focus worthy or even really remember. Hannah struggled with the idea of how to help her friend/boss Amber with what happened to the barista (fine, he has a name – Ethan Gray) and maintain her separateness as per the Ordnung. Why does this matter, you ask? Because how often do we get caught in the ‘rules’ of our faith instead of the practice of our faith? How often do we get so rigid in expectations and less on compassion? Following the ‘rules’ and meeting expectations, while admirable, without the ability to reach beyond ourselves to help someone who is struggling it’s all worthless (in Fizzy’s world). Following the Ordung is admirable, however it is merely a set of rules that have been adopted to help the Amish live their faith based on their interpretation of the Bible. Ignoring a fellow human in need and failing to show them the compassion and love of Christ in the moment where they are is the opposite of what Jesus taught. As Christians (Amish or otherwise) there is a time and place for rules and expectations, however there is also a need to realize that we are part of a great community and the best way to bring people to Christ is to show them the love of Christ right where they are. It’s no secret that I love a good mystery. It’s no secret that I can usually decipher it all out before the end of the book, usually being the operative word. I was so very set on a cast of three, possibly four, potential killers. One felt a bit too red herring but I left them in
Everyone knows that I'm obsessed with coffee. So, this book had everything that I love in it. There's murder, pie, and coffee. Wait, that came off completely wrong. I don't love murder! I do love mysteries, pie, and coffee! I've been on a mystery kick lately. Years ago, I used to devour Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Trixie Beldon books at a rate that alarmed my parents. Murder Simply Brewed takes me back to those days when reading a cozy murder mystery was the highlight of my day. I'm really not helping my case, am I? Anyway, this book is a breath of fresh air in the Amish genre. Who would have thought of Amish and murder? Apparently, Vannetta Chapman. Even once I figured out "whodunnit," I couldn't have predicted the how. In fact, I didn't see it coming at all! Overall, this book is a great read for people who want a squeaky clean murder mystery. There is no gore or disturbing violence. It's just an enjoyable, clean cozy mystery. Two sweet budding romances are just icing on the cake for this book. I can't wait to pick up the rest of this series!
Murder Slightly Brewed is an incredibly enjoyably amazingly fun. Now Preface that with saying it may be fun but this book is a wonderfully written mystery. I mean seriously - you have one of the Amish villages favorite kaffi(coffee) makers and while he is setting up in the morning to do his favorite thing (setting up his kaffie) something happens to him - what happens to him? Well you just have to get the book to find out but you have poor Hannah that found it all. Her and her boss Amber decide to take on the case because the police are just bumblers I think. The clues that they follow are so very original = something I totally enjoyed and the twists that I found exciting. The ending is amazing. Enjoy ya'll. If you would like to read more of my Christian book reviews go to christianlybookreviewers.blgospot.com
Very good cozy mystery with both “Englisch” and Amish characters. The setting is wonderful—a pleasant village constructed for the benefit of both locals and tourists in Middlebury, Indiana. The Amish Village includes a conference center, restaurant and several shops built adjacent to a pond on lovely grounds. Although romance is not the main focus of the novel, a couple of budding romances are featured—one “Englisch” and one Amish. This novel offers an interesting cast of characters and is very entertaining. If you like cozy mysteries, I think you will enjoy this one.
Great series. Great read
I really enjoyed this book! Loved Hannah & Amber's characters - along with Tate, whom at first, I wasn't too sure of (he just seemed cranky). The story was great - I didn't have a sure idea of who it was until closer to the end which I liked, I'd had suspicions, but they were wrong ;) Just a great book - I loved the different dynamics with the characters, and seeing them fall in love, while trying to figure out whodunit. Just a great book. Loved it Vannetta! I'm excited to read the next one!
Probably because it is my home stomping grounds.
I have been reading reviews on these books since they started coming out last year and have been eager to read them. I finally broke down and bought this book and I'm so glad I did! It was certainly worth the money. This was my first book by Vannetta Chapman, so aside from the reviews I'd read, I didn't know what to expect. While this wasn't a fast paced, action packed novel, I didn't expect it to be. It moved along at just the right speed for the subject. The characters were well written and developed. I could easily relate to their feelings and emotions throughout the story. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together with them was exciting. I enjoyed reading about Hannah and Jesse. Hannah's sweet innocence and adolescent confusion made for an interesting character. Amber is a great manager. She is kind, compassionate, organized, and caring. Her relationship with Tate was swift and sweet. I didn't like Tate at the beginning of the story, but quickly warmed up to him as his character developed. The message of the story is about learning to be comfortable in the situations we find ourselves in. Life isn't always easy. Sometimes we stop and question why God put us here. In the words of Hannah's Mamm, "Sometimes Gotte (God) has a way of putting us in situations where we're uncomfortable." He does it for our own good and growth. Overall, this was an exciting story and I look forward to reading more in the Amish Village Mystery Series.
Vannetta Chapman in her new book, “Murder Simply Brewed” Book One in the Amish Village Mystery series published by Zondervan introduces us to Amber Wright and Hannah Troyer. From the back cover: When the coffee shop manager is murdered in Middlebury’s Amish Artisan Village, two women from different walks of life must join together to solve the mystery. Spring has arrived in Middlebury, Indiana, and Amber Wright is optimistic about the growing profit from her collection of Amish shops—until she receives a call that Ethan Gray is dead. Hurrying over to A Simple Blend, she finds a solitary hole in the front window and the store manager lying next to the espresso machine, dead from an apparent heart attack. All the money is still in his register. When Amber hires a young Amish woman, Hannah Troyer, to take over the shop’s duties, the two women become fast friends—as well as amateur sleuths. The police believe Gray’s death is a by-product of vandalism, but Amber and Hannah aren’t convinced. Clues that don’t add up, a neighbor who is pulled into the midst of the investigation, a town with secrets to hide, and a blossoming romance—all will combine to push Amber and Hannah into unfamiliar roles in order to reveal answers to the mysteries around them. Now this is what a murder mystery is all about. First we have Amber Wright, an English woman, who has some Amish Village shops one of which is A Simple Blend, a coffee shop. Then we have Hannah Troyer, who is Amish, that Amber hired to take over A Simply Blend after the death of Ethan. Nobody liked Ethan and when these two women set out to find his murderer they have a huge mystery with a large set of suspects with very little to go on. This is going to keep you flipping pages as you get involved with mystery hunters and a vandal. Ms. Chapman has done an outstanding job in giving us a first class mystery. Amber and Hannah are really great characters that we fall in love with and feel as though they are friends that we do not want to leave when the book is finished. The good news is Ms. Chapman has written a second book in this series so we can reunite with them soon. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This is the first book i read from this author. I reallybenjoyed the mystery and character story line great Read
Murder Simply Brewed by Vannetta Chapman is a delightful Amish cozy mystery. It is the first book in the Amish Village Mystery series. Amber Wright is the manager of the Amish Artisan Village in Middlebury, Indiana. She lives in a Dawdy Haus (a small house for grandparents or that the parents move into when they pass the property/house on to a son or daughter) on the property with her cat, Leo. At the beginning of a new day she gets a call that Ethan Gray, manager of A Simple Blend, has been found dead in the shop. The windows were also shot with a BB gun. It is ruled a heart attack, but Amber has a feeling that there is more to it than meets the eye! She receives a call at the end of the day of a threatening message left on a trail near the property line. Tate Bowman, who owns a farm adjacent to the Amish Artisan Village, spotted the message. It is written in red paint. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. Hannah Troyer is twenty-two and has been working at Quilting Bee. Amber asks her to take over A Simple Blend. Amber and Hannah start talking about Ethan’s death and the damage being done around The Village. Hannah talks things over with her friend, Jesse Miller. Jesse works on the grounds crew in The Village. They keep looking for clues to help solve the crimes. After a threat at Amber’s home, Tate starts keeping a closer eye. Amber and Tate also get to know each other better. Tate lost his wife four years ago and has never been a fan of The Village. But, as he gets to know Amber, he sees things a little differently. Tate, Amber, Hannah, and Jesse work to see who is behind the threats and damage to The Village. Amber also thinks that Ethan was murdered and hopes to find proof. I give Murder Simply Brewed 5 out of 5 stars. Enjoyable and relatable characters, interesting setting, well-written, and an entertaining mystery. I have wanted to read this book since it came out, but I have not had the opportunity. I finally pushed it to the top of my list and I am very glad. I cannot wait to read the next book in this engaging series.
This was a good book. I liked the characters. I liked the setting. The mystery was mysterious. The drawback for me was that the pacing was just so slow. There doesn't seem to be any urgency to the investigation which I'm not used to in a murder mystery. Each clue that moved the story forward came between leisurely description and details from three different points of view- Amber's, Hannah's, and the neighboring farmer Tate. The three perspectives do give variety to the story and show how the Amish and English communities interact and form friendships. The romance between Amber and Tate is especially enjoyable to see develop.