I really enjoyed Karen Ann Hopkins’ mystery series where the local sheriff investigates crimes in the nearby Amish community. The first book Lamb To the Slaughter introduced us to Sheriff Serenity Adams and formerly Amish contractor Daniel Bachman as they joined forces to solve the mysterious death of an Amish teenager.
Now I’m thrilled to bring you the cover of the second installment of Serenity’s Plain Secrets–Whispers From the Dead.
Goodreads – Expected publication December 16, 2014
Some Amish communities aren’t so cozy.
Whispers From The Dead is the powerful and thrilling sequel to Lamb to the Slaughter, in the Amish mystery series, Serenity’s Plain Secrets.
Sheriff Serenity Adams and Daniel Bachman are once again partnered up in a criminal investigation, when they travel to a northern Amish settlement that has been riddled by arsons for the past two decades. Serenity quickly discovers that there is much more going on than just barns being set on fire in the touristy community, and that the new group of Amish has their own secrets to hide. She begins to unravel an extensive criminal underworld that threatens to destroy everything that the simple people of Poplar Springs hold dear and once again puts her own life in jeopardy.
And even though Serenity tries desperately to avoid it, things begin heating up between her and Daniel, making her wonder if true love and happiness are really within her grasp.
A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.
Excerpt From Whispers From the Dead:
Rowan’s voice suddenly trailed off and I turned in the direction of his stare.
A newer model, solid black Dodge Charger pulled into the driveway and parked beside us. The spattering of dusty white film over the car didn’t fool me. It was a very nice sports car and not the type of ride you would see out in the country. It was much more similar to a vehicle that drug dealers in Indy drove.
But it wasn’t the car that caught the breath in my throat. It was the inhabitants. They were the same two men that I had seen with the group of Amish boys in the lot behind the store. Once again, something needled me to attention and I waited for an explanation from Rowan.
“Hey, bro, haven’t seen you in a while,” the chameleon said.
I shot a look at Rowan wondering at the newcomer’s use of the word bro when he quickly said, “Serenity, this is my brother, Asher.”
Things were getting stickier by the minute.
Asher dipped his head in greeting, but he didn’t bother to remove his shades. I never liked talking to people with sunglasses on. It put me at a disadvantage when I couldn’t read their eyes. That’s why I rarely had mine off when I was outdoors in the daytime. But all the same, I still got the definite feeling that Asher was gaging my reaction to news of his relationship with Rowan. Now that I was up close to him, I could see the family resemblance, physically. Both men had the same striking high cheek bones, but where Rowan was more reserved, Asher appeared to be extremely outgoing.
Asher continued to stare at me while he asked Rowan, “Have you been holding out on me? Are you dating this pretty English woman?”
Interestingly, the fact that Asher didn’t know about me the way everyone else in the community did, signaled that there might be a rift of some kind between the brothers.
Rowan didn’t beat around the bush when he said, “This is Serenity Adams. She’s the sheriff in Blood Rock.”
“What would the sheriff from Blood Rock be doing in our neck of the woods?” Asher asked. His tone was amicable, almost teasing, but I wasn’t fooled. When Asher and the man seated beside him heard the word sheriff they had both straightened in their seats. It was as if I had just turned into a grizzly bear before their very eyes. They were suddenly extremely alert, poised for action. I’d seen this kind of reaction from plenty of people before, and it always meant they were guilty of something.
Not giving Rowan a chance to answer, I said, “I’m doing a private investigation of the recent barn burnings and the death of the woman in this particular barn.” I lifted my chin toward the wreckage, but I didn’t take my eyes off the men as I gaged their reactions to what I’d said.
Asher’s companion’s eyes widened considerably before he quickly looked away. Asher remained staring back at me, seemingly weighing my words before carefully saying, “Do you have any ideas who might be our pyromaniac?”
It was a reasonable question, but something in Asher’s tone and the tilt of his head put me on edge. I also made a mental note that he had referred to the problem as our, which struck me as odd since he obviously had left the Amish community to become English.
With a quick glance, I saw that Rowan was waiting for my answer as well. “I just got here today, but hopefully some leads will pop up soon,” I said.
Asher seemed to breathe a little easier with my answer and I decided to see how much about himself he was willing to share. “When did you leave the Amish, Asher?”
Asher leaned back and smiled broadly with the look of a man who got asked that particular question a lot. “I was about eighteen when I cut out. The Amish lifestyle didn’t suit me very well,” he turned to Rowan and quickly added, “If you need anything, bro, give me a call. Don’t be such a stranger.”
Rowan nodded his head stiffly and then Asher said to me, “Have a nice day, Sheriff.”
Asher’s words were like rotten potatoes dripping with honey. I squinted at the sports car in annoyance as it backed out onto the roadway and drove away.
Rowan wasted no time clucking to his horse and snapping the reins. As we began building speed, he glanced over and said, “What did you think about my brother?”
“You want my honest opinion?”
“Of course,” he said firmly.
“He’s a jerk, but a charismatic one.” As an afterthought, I added, “I can see why he didn’t fit in with your people.”
The farms were once again whizzing by and the breeze was getting colder by the minute. The late afternoon sun had dipped low in the sky, and all the snow that had melted earlier in the day was beginning to refreeze, causing the landscape to glisten delightfully. I zipped up my jacket against the chill, and had the fleeting thought of how strange it was that here I was riding around in a buggy in northern Indiana with an Amish man who I barely knew. God definitely had a wicked sense of humor when it came to me, I thought.
“You are a very astute person. Asher was always rebellious, but he hid it well from our parents when we were teenagers. He was always breaking the rules…but he never did get caught.”
“So what finally forced him out?”
Rowan took a deep breath and his mouth quivered slightly. I suddenly became hyper aware, recognizing the imminent signs of a person about to betray a secret. I had discovered through my relationship with Daniel that both the Amish, and ex-Amish people, didn’t like discussing their pasts. Then it suddenly occurred to me as if a blinding flash of lightening had struck the ground beside me, that the fire of nineteen ninety-seven would have happened about the same time that Rowan and Asher were teenagers themselves.
Was it just a coincidence that Asher showed up at the crime scene today, or was there a more sinister reason for his visit to the community? I really didn’t believe in coincidences and I already knew that it was very common for perpetrators to return to the scenes of their crimes. Maybe I was getting way too far ahead of myself, but I had the instant impression that Asher and his friend were not law abiding citizens. And I trusted my instincts. They had served me well thus far.
The surrendering look on Rowan’s face was fleeting. It was replaced by the expression of stubbornness that I had unfortunately discovered was all too common among the Amish people. “Our ways just didn’t suit him, just like he said.”
I leaned back and mentally slapped myself for thinking this case would be that easy.
“You guys aren’t that friendly anymore, I take it?”
“No. He chose to walk on a very different path than me and I couldn’t have him influencing my children.”
I got it. I had a sensible sister who was similar to me in everything from politics to basic values, but not everyone was that lucky. Shunning aside, it would be impossible for Rowan to keep up a relationship with a badass brother like Asher.
The horse slowed to a walk just before we turned up Rowan’s driveway. I experienced a bubble of happiness for a moment at the prospect of a hot shower before I remembered that the simple luxury probably wasn’t an option.
“Uh, does your family ever take showers?”
Karen is generously offering up a $25 gift card (Amazon, B&N or iTunes) to one lucky winner! Also up for grabs are 10 eCopies of the first book in the series, LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form.
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