Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Karen Hopkins
Free From Sin
FREE FROM SIN is a gripping psychological crime thriller/mystery story about the intertwining lives of three unlikely women in the hills of Kentucky, and the explosive results when a troubled teenager has her day of reckoning. Sheriff Sadie Mills navigates the challenges of single motherhood while solving crimes in the rural community of Possum Gap, Kentucky. The recent trailer shootings in her jurisdiction have her on edge, and the new coroner, a Yankee transplant from the east coast, is still adjusting to life in the wilderness when all hell breaks loose. Cases stemming from an out-of-control hillbilly clan, sex trafficking, and a murder in the nearby Amish community collide, and Sheriff Mills finds herself in a race to stop a serial killer before they strike again. Lucinda Coblentz is a devoted wife, mother, and member of a strict religious order. Her kind and generous ways make her the perfect target of a master manipulator and has put her beloved family in grave danger. Can she make matters right before it’s too late? Charlie Baker endured years of torment by a wicked stepfather and a coldhearted mother before she finally escaped her suffering. Now eighteen, her powerful journey takes her between two worlds, one good and the other evil. Struggling to cope with buried secrets and the demons from her past, she’ll stop at nothing in her search for the one thing that has always eluded her—happiness.
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 7.25 out of 10


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

In the first of Hopkins’s (The Offering) The Possum Gap Novels series, three women’s lives are thrown together in the aftermath of a shocking crime in small town Kentucky. Teenage sex trafficking victim Charlie Baker escapes her captor during a violent shootout and finds refuge in the home of Lucinda Coblentz, a kind Amish woman. As town sheriff Sadie Mills investigates the crime, Charlie’s presence in the tightly knit Amish community becomes increasingly difficult to conceal. Relationships among the communities of Possum Gap are tested as the three women struggle with the decisions they must make.

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.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-