Callie Harper has just arrived in Shipshewana, Indiana because her aunt died and Callie has been appointed to settle her estate. This includes selling her aunt’s small local quilt shop. Almost immediately upon arriving, Callie is paid a visit by Deborah Yoder, a local Amish woman who had a business arrangement with Callie’s aunt to sell her quilts in the shop.
"I am eagerly awaiting the second installment in the series. Chapman has definitely made me a fan --- not only of her work, but also of Amish fiction."
Although Callie has no intention of staying in Shipshewana, Deborah, along with a local realtor who offers to list the business, persuades Callie to fix up the shop and reopen, at least until they find a buyer. Deborah and Callie make a temporary deal to list a few quilts on eBay, in order to earn much-needed money for Esther, an Amish woman and fellow quilt-maker who lost her husband in a tragic accident. Everyone in town is supportive of Callie reopening the shop, except for the newspaper editor, who prints lies about her in the press. This makes Callie so angry that she marches on over to the newspaper office and confronts him publically. She even ends up pouring her glass of tea over his head.
Soon after, the editor turns up dead in his office, and things don’t look good for Callie. Deborah and her quilting friends then join forces with Callie to find the real killer.
If you are a fan of Amish fiction, or if you like cozy mysteries, I predict that you’ll love FALLING TO PIECES, the first book in the Shipshewana Amish Mystery series by Vannetta Chapman.
I have a confession to make: I prefer contemporary general fiction to Amish fiction. In fact, as far as I can recall, this is only the second novel with Amish characters that I’ve read, and it’s also the first title I’ve picked up by this author. But I also have to say that after finishing this book, I am eagerly awaiting the second installment in the series. Chapman has definitely made me a fan --- not only of her work, but also of Amish fiction.
It could have something to do with the fact that many of the characters were “Englishers,” including Callie. But I found the Amish aspects fascinating and a little surprising, too. More than learning about Amish living, however, the thing I appreciated the most was the relationship between Deborah and Callie. These two women, culturally as different as night and day, were in many ways very much the same. I loved their interaction, their banter, and watching their friendship blossom. Callie’s feisty personality brings out a little spunk in Deborah, and Deborah’s gentle demeanor keeps Callie a little more subdued.
The mystery aspect is slightly slow moving, but overall is entertaining and fun. There are a few twists and turns, and it did keep me guessing until the end, which is always a plus. Secondary characters are endearing and well-crafted. There are even a couple of love interests for Callie, which hopefully will play out more in the next book. The setting is ideal, a perfect choice for this novel. Market Days (the huge Shipshewana flea market held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from late spring to early fall) played a part and gave the story a genuine small-town flavor. Finally, the spiritual facets were expertly integrated into the storyline and never felt preachy or forced.
FALLING TO PIECES is a delightful novel and an overall enjoyable read. Thinking about it now, I wouldn’t even necessarily categorize the book as Amish Fiction. It’s more like a cozy mystery with Amish flair, a combination that works remarkably well.