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Friday, December 5, 2014

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: Murder, Served Simply (Amish Quilt Shop #3) by Isabella Alan

Amish quilt shop owner Angie Braddock has a lot on her plate this Christmas. But things only get worse after someone develops a taste for murder…

Angie’s parents are visiting Rolling Brook for Christmas—but unfortunately, her ex is joining them. Luckily, Angie has no time to dwell on her romantic troubles as she prepares her store, Running Stitch, for the town’s traditional progressive dinner, featuring a sleigh ride stopping at each shop for a different course of the meal.

The meal ends with an Amish-themed Christmas play at the Swiss Valley Hotel and Barn. But the performance is cut short when an actress falls from the scaffolding to her death. After the sheriff suspects foul play, tensions between the Amish and Englisch heat up, as do rivalries among the acting troupe. Now Angie and her quilting circle must stitch together clues before they’re the ones running for cover…

INCLUDES QUILTING TIPS!





Amish On Stage
By Isabella Alan

When the actors dressed in Amish costume burst into song and dance, I knew I had the setting for my next Amish Quilt Shop Mystery. I was visiting Holmes County on a research trip. I live about an hour from Holmes County, so I rarely spend the night there. However on this particular visit, I booked a hotel stay and show because I was curious about the annual Amish-themed play that the hotel had. Never in a million years did I expect it to be a musical. I think I made the assumption that it was strictly a regular play because many Amish don’t sing outside of church and they definitely do not dance. Seeing actors on stage wearing Amish dress prance about, tickled my funny bone, but as amusing as I found the performance to be, I knew many plain folk would not see the humor in it.

Because I’m a nosy sort, I asked some Amish and Mennonite people I knew how they felt about the musical version of Amish life. Most of them thought it was fine. They were happy with the play because it brought even more tourists to the county. Many plain people depend on tourism for their livelihood. However, others, if not outright hostile about the play, made it clear they didn’t care for how it portrayed the Amish. This diverse reaction to the play among the Amish and Mennonites just confirmed to me that a play was the perfect setting for an Amish mystery novel.

In Murder, Served Simply, the story opens in the middle of a progressive dinner. The progressive dinner was the idea of the Rolling Brook Township Trustees to increase tourism to the tiny township. The big finish for the dinner is a play, An Amish Christmas, at an inn in town. The only problem is the lead actress for the play is a former Amish girl named Eve Shetler. Most of the Amish in Rolling Brook are indifferent to the play, but they do not like it that Eve is an actress. They feel she is mocking her upbringing. So it comes as no surprise that poor Eve ends up dead before curtain call. Now, quilt shop owner, Texas transplant, and amateur sleuth Angie Braddock must find the killer even it means taking a long hard look at her dear Amish friends.




National Bestselling Author Isabella Alan is the pseudonym for Amanda Flower. Amanda Flower, a two time Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland. 



 
Isabella Alan is a master storyteller.  She knows exactly how to weave together the perfect mystery, creating a beautiful story full of excitement.  Her Amish Quilt Shop mysteries are a terrific way to marry the Amish with the English, introducing readers to a whole new world and way of life.  The amount of research and detail that Ms. Alan puts in to each of these books is evident with every turn of the page.  The characters that she develops are superb as well.  Angie is a brilliant antagonist, and her tenacity is what drives these stories and brings the book to life.

I particularly enjoyed the Christmas theme to this story.  The progressive dinner was a genius idea, and was a great way to showcase this amazing town in which the series is based. 

Bravo, Ms. Alan. You knocked this one out of the park, and I simply cannot wait to visit Rolling Brook yet again. 

Rating: 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own. 

Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have 1 copy of Murder, Served Simply by Isabella Alan to give away to one of my lucky readers! Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, and be sure to keep checking back for more awesome giveaways! 

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