cover image A Plain Death

A Plain Death

Amanda Flower. B&H, $14.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1433676970

Flower (Maid of Murder), a librarian, diversifies the popular Amish niche with this unsuccessful cozy. The premise promises: Chloe Humphrey is a 24-year-old geek hired to direct technology services at a tiny college in Ohio’s Amish country. A sad family history is packed in her baggage. Driving to her new home in Appleseed Creek, Chloe meets a young Amish woman, Becky, who needs rescue from two local thugs harassing her as she walks down the road. Thus begins the novel’s central relationship, soon complicated by Chloe’s work environment, a car accident that kills an Amish bishop, and Becky’s hunky brother Timothy, who has left the Amish but is still righteous enough to be a Mennonite. Unfortunately, the characters are cardboard. The bad guys are cartoony (“he grinned at me, tobacco juice trailing down his lower lip”); the theology of the Amish implausible (“there is not one right way to be obedient to the Lord”). Flower offers imaginative touches: pets with character (a crabby cat named Gigabyte). Amish cozies can work, but Flower needs to work on making characters credible and compelling. Agent: Nicole Resciniti. (July)