Please give a warm welcome to my guest, Vanetta Chapman.
Murder Tightly Knit releases today (December 16), and I thought I’d share with you a little bit about the genre of Amish cozy mysteries. This is the second book in my Amish Village Mystery series—the first was Murder Simply Brewed (ebook is now on sale for $2.99) and the third, Murder Freshly Baked will release in the summer of 2015. Each is a stand-alone story, but share the same characters who are solving a different “case.”
So what is the deal with Amish murder mysteries? After all, we read Amish stories because they describe the plain and simple life, they remind us of the way our grandparents lived, and they focus on faith. Can a murder mystery do those things? I think so! Here’s a recent review:
“Readers will enjoy figuring out the murder mystery while also growing close to the characters as they fall in love, learn more about one another, and grow deeper in their faith.” – Booklist
So what IS a cozy mystery? Here’s my definition:
- It takes place in a small town. In this series, my characters live in Middlebury, Indiana http://www.middleburyin.com which is located in the northeast corner of Indiana—3 hours north of Indianapolis, 2 hours east of Chicago, and 90 minutes south of Grand Rapids.
- Someone stumbles over the body and then becomes involved in the investigation. There are no violent or descriptive scenes. Think of the old Agatha Christie books, or the television show Murder She Wrote. These are gentle reads and although here may be some tension, you never have to worry about encountering a grisly scene.
- There’s an amateur sleuth and a sidekick. This is part of what makes a cozy mystery fun. My “amateur sleuth” is Amber Wright (now Amber Bowman), and she runs the Amish Village which is remarkably similar to the Essenhaus in Middlebury (http://www.essenhaus.com). I was able to interview quite a few people at the Essenhaus including the general manager. This helped me to bring real aspects of the area to the story! My sleuth usually ends up in trouble, but she also brings a fresh perspective to the investigation. In a cozy mystery, the sleuth knows more about the people in the town and so is able to figure out the mystery before or in conjunction with the police. In Murder Tightly Knit, my sidekick is Hannah Troyer, an Amish girl who works at the Village.
- There’s a degree of humor in cozy mysteries. I know that murder investigations are not funny, but my characters are! In this story, I introduce Pam Coleman, the new assistant manager to the Village. She is a smart, funny, perceptive black woman who brings warmth and humor to the story.
- It always comes back to faith and friendship—and perhaps a little romance. When we go through trying times, often our beliefs are reinforced, and the people of Middlebury certainly rely on their faith as they try to solve this mystery. Friendships are strengthened and the community as a whole comes together in a closer more genuine way.
I find cozy mysteries fun to write. I’m able to explore a lot of different topics. For instance, in this story I’m able to incorporate a lot of details about knitting, survivalists, Amish teens who leave home, and how we can reach out to the homeless. There’s even a prodigal son aspect to the story. It’s a fun read with a lot of faith, humor, and plain and simple living thrown in.
I’d love to give away a free copy (ebook or print) to one of Kate’s readers. So leave a comment below, telling me whether you knit, crochet, or craft in any way (and it’s okay if you don’t – leave a comment any way). We’ll randomly pull one name and select a winner. US only.
You can find out more about me and my writing at the following links:
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Thank you Vanetta!