Friday, March 29, 2013

Assaulted Pretzel - Laura Bradford

 

Assaulted Pretzel
An Amish Mystery
Laura Bradford
Berkley Prime Crime
 
Mystery
 
The Karble Toy Company wants to bring back simpler times; to create toys that allow children to play and imagine.  They’re going to be producing a series of toys called Back To Basics, based on the wooden toys created by the Amish in Heavenly, Pennsylvania.  This will bring much-needed work and income to the Amish who live there, since farmland is not infinite.  As the annual food festival begins, there’s a mood of excited celebration in the air.  The festival ends abruptly when Rob Karble falls dead among the crowd from an apparent blow to the head.
 
Clarie Weatherly knows that the Amish avoid violence, and can’t believe any of them would do such a thing.  But there’s a letter circulating in the crowd that announces the new Karble toy line and says that the toys will be mass-produced in a factory in Michigan.  It soon becomes clear that Karble simply photographed the wooden toys and appropriated the designs.  That makes the toymaker the most obvious suspect, but Claire knows that Karble and his wife had a huge fight the night before the announcement – a fight witnessed by many at the local inn.
 
This is the second book in this cozy series, and, as before, the setting is perfectly evoked.  Heavenly is a place where traditional Amish families work alongside the English.  The Amish live on farms outside the town, but many of them run shops or work in town.  Jakob Fisher returns as the local detective who was raised Amish, and then abruptly left after his baptism to follow his calling to police work.  His departure after baptism means that the Amish – even his family members – must shun him.  That makes his work all the more difficult as he tries to track down the killer.

As in the first book, HEARSE AND BUGGY, the mystery takes a back seat to the setting and the people who live there.  That’s not a criticism when the locale and the inhabitants are fascinating on their own merits.  I found myself to be far more interested in the interplay among the characters and their intersecting lives than in the mystery plot.  The mystery is wrapped up neatly in the end, with loose ends left dangling in the personal lives of several characters.  That’s what I want to know about: what happens next to these lovely and sympathetic people?
 
Rating: 7
March 2013
ISBN# 978-0-425-25200-0 (paperback)

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