A Simple Murder Review
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One of my favorite types of mysteries is the historical mystery. Author Eleanor Kuhns’s A Simple Murder takes readers way back to 1776—and a small Shaker settlement near Durham, Maine, where a whole new world awaits and secrets abound.

Once he figures out that farming isn’t the life that he wants, former soldier Will Rees leaves his son in the care of his sister and heads out to travel and weave. When he gets word that his son has run away to live with a Shaker community, Rees tracks down his son and ends up getting involved in the murder investigation of a young Shaker woman.

Sister Chastity is discovered dead near the wash house, with a head wound caused by a blunt object. What business she had there late at night, while everyone else slept, no one can guess. Soon, Rees discovers that her death may be tied to the disappearance of two other brothers from the Shaker community.

With the help of an ostracized member, Lydia Jane Farrell—with whom Rees thinks he might be falling in love—he follows the clues, unearthing secrets along the way, until suspicion falls on everyone. When his life becomes endangered, Rees realizes that he needs to solve the case quickly, or he may never leave the Shakers alive.

Though I would have liked to have learned more about the Shakers, their religion, and their way of life, A Simple Murder still kept me enthralled. It’s fascinating to watch a character solve a case without the help of forensic science—and Rees has to rely on a keen sense of observation and not overlook one piece of evidence.

Will Rees is a quiet and relaxed character who tries to live a simple life, though it often gets complicated by the actions of others. He handles himself well in those situations, and he’ll make you long for the nomadic kind of life that he lives. I can’t wait to see where he’ll turn up next.

With a puzzling crime, a host of suspects, and a bit of hair-raising action, A Simple Murder will take you into a place where criminal action shouldn’t exist but all too often does. This only serves to make the journey through the book that much more intriguing, proving that religion has its share of impurity among the flock. Or does it? You’ll find out when the case ends on a shocking note.

Pick up a copy of A Simple Murder and find out why it won the Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books First Crime Novel Competition. You won’t be disappointed—I promise.

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