This is the 4th novel in the Amish-Country Mystery series by P.L.Gaus. I happened upon it by serendipity.
My sister in law, Mary, asked me if I had any used large print mystery books to give away to her friend, Lynn, who has had to go into a nursing home and who also has vision problems. Mary specified used books because books in nursing homes are borrowed by other patients and disappear. Mary had checked local bookstores and used goods stores and found no new or used large print books at all. Mary called me because I am a source of books in my family and I do give used books to the Goodwill locally rather than reselling them. If you are looking at this Thorndike press title then you know why large print books are not easy to fine: the market for these books is normally public libraries. Public libraries buy from different sources than regular folks.
Because this title was one of the first I found in used large print at a reasonable price for used, because it was the first delivered and a title I had never read, I decided to read it. Normally I skip anything Amish because they are extremely religious and I am not. Yes, there is some religion in this book but it does not play an enormous part in the solution of the mystery. The part it plays is that some of the characters are Amish or Mennonites. So it is really just a regular type of cozy mystery that intersects with the Amish community.
The main characters in the novel are "English" (which I learned is what the Amish call the non-Amish) and the Amish characters speak Pennsylvania Dutch in their homes (but many are apparently bilingual in English for contact with non-Amish).
The protagonist is history Professor Michael Brandon who has studied the Amish for history reasons and is called in by the county Sheriff in any case that involves Amish or Mennonite members of the county in any way. In this novel, a wealthy woman is found murdered in her bed with her head bashed in. There is very little blood clues at her mansion...only a few drops on a staircase. The victim had had many visitors the evening before, including the ex-Amish-now-Mennonite fiancee of her son, and also various department heads and president from a local college. She had been donating money to the college in the past (which her son and daughter attend) but on that evening she was letting the college know she was greatly reducing her donations to it. She also had a "live in" butler and some staff who came in on a daily basis for cooking and cleaning. All were present for part or all of the night of her death. Many of them had motives since the victim had angered and threatened most of the people in contact with her the evening prior to her death.
This is a very good station house type mystery. I suspect all of the series is similar. The murderer in these types of mysteries is not a serial killer but one motivated by love/hate/anger/jealousy or money/greed. Professor Brandon apparently always solves mysteries working with the county Sheriff's department and medical examiner, not by himself. So though this is technically a cozy (amateur detective), it is also partly a police procedural.
I liked the characters of the professor, the professor's wife, a local minister who is a friend of the professor, a psychiatrist who is also a friend, the local sheriff and medical examiner, and the other sheriff department staff. I zipped through the novel and enjoyed the plot and the search for the murderer. It's so refreshing to read a good mystery that is not about a serial killer but still contains confusion about who the killer is and how to prove it.
This large print book has a library quality binding and the print on the text part of the novel is 16 point Plantin, a proportional font that includes serifs. I don't know why it is but serif fonts are easier to read than sans serif. I don't have reading vision problems (mine is good for my age) but it seems to me that Thorndike does very nice formatting of text on the page: spacing between letters within a word, spacing between words and interline spacing. I could read this large print book much easier than normal print books. The larger print gives me much less eyestrain after hours of reading. I have upped the font size on my kindles to read with larger print since reading this novel.
- Hardcover: 355 pages
- Publisher: Thorndike Pr; Large Print edition (1 April 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1410434303
- ISBN-13: 978-1410434302
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 476 g
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