Plot/Idea: This mystery features a well-realized plot that will prove entertaining and satisfying to fans of the genre. The focus on a crime within an Amish community is a fresh concept.
Prose: The prose is straightforward and accessible. The book's events proceed in clear chronological order, while the author also integrates a few surprising twists and turns.
Originality: Hopkins strikes notes of originality in the relationships between the three central female characters, and offers an intimate perspective on an Amish community.
Character Development/Execution: The characters are quite well sketched, particularly Sheriff Sadie Mills, though their motivations--particularly those of teenage girl, Charlie--are not entirely clear. The Kentucky setting is vividly crafted.
Date Submitted: April 07, 2022
The story is told from the perspectives of Charlie, Lucinda, and Sadie in alternating chapters, allowing readers to get to know more about each of these well-drawn characters: Charlie’s tragic backstory, Lucinda’s struggle to balance her own judgment with her community’s religious restrictions, and Sadie’s difficult relationship with her teenage daughter. The shared narration does not interfere with the plot’s clarity or momentum, and while at times the characters rush toward major decisions, the story’s quick tempo and surprising twists make the book hard to put down. Christian spirituality influences elements of the story, but the narrative is also gritty and even shocking at some points, with instances of violence and frank references to sexual abuse.
Hopkins’s descriptions of the rural Appalachian setting are vivid and have the ring of authenticity, attentive to both beautiful mountain landscapes and impoverished living conditions. Her depiction of the different communities within Possum Gap–law enforcement, Amish, and backwoods family clans–is similarly thoughtful and detailed. The main players reflect the values and experiences of their backgrounds, but they are not static or stereotypical, instead displaying their own unique personality traits and perspectives. This exciting psychological thriller adds a human dimension to a hard-nosed crime story.
Takeaway: Readers who relish strong female leads will enjoy this suspenseful but nuanced crime novel.
Great for fans of: Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series, Vannetta Chapman’s Shipshewana Amish Mystery series, Chris Offutt’s The Killing Hills.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-