Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Perfect Square, by Vannetta Chapman

Overview (from Goodreads): There's more to the quaint northern Indiana town of Shipshewana than handcrafted quilts, Amish-made furniture, immaculate farms and close-knit families. When a dead girl is found floating in a local pond, murder is also afoot. And Reuben Fisher is in jail as the suspect Reuben refuses to divulge any information, even to clear himself of a crime Deborah is certain he didn't commit. So, with her English friend, Callie -fellow sleuth and owner of Daisy's Quilt Shop-Deborah sets out to uncover the truth. But the mystery deepens when an elderly man seeks Callie's help in finding his long-lost daughter, missing since the days of the 1965 Palm Sunday Tornadoes. An old man who has lost his past. A young man who may lose his future. Once again Deborah and Callie find themselves trying to piece together a crazy quilt of lives and events---one that can bring unexpected touches of God's grace and resolve the tragedy that has shaken this quiet Amish community.

Review: I read A Perfect Square as I normally eat a piece of delicious chocolate cake: slowly but steadily, savoring each sentence, each paragraph, enjoying author Vannetta Chapman’s use of words, descriptions, emotions and sensations. The way Mrs. Chapman tells a story is similar to how a fine quilter stitches patterns together: every detail fitting in perfectly so that in the end, what looked like a scarf at first, turns out to be a beautiful, intricate and lovely quilt. Here, what looked like nice, enjoyable mystery turned out to be a beautiful, intricate and lovely story of love, loyalty, friendship, honesty, mercy and grace.

Good friends Callie and Deborah are once again deeply involved in what appears to be a murder investigation, with their friend Reuben as the only suspect. The mystery, or more accurate, mysteries are so engaging and interesting that I found myself sneaking extra coffee breaks at work just to be able to keep reading. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop reading.

This novel is a great example of how details can make or break a novel. Here, every detail, every description serves a purpose either to add a piece for the mystery puzzle or to help the reader get to know the characters better, go deeper into their personalities, what they’re thinking, how they feel. I loved the fact that we got to see more of Deborah, we got to know her and her family better. I also loved to see more of Esther, but missed Melinda. I’m guessing book 3, Material Witness, will have a whole lot more of her.

Seeing how Callie interacts with her three Amish friends, how their relationship grows and how she starts letting go of her past is a wonderful added plus to this remarkable story. I really liked how Mrs. Chapman is, slowly but surely, resolving one of the most intriguing mysteries this series has (at least for me): Which of the three guys —Trent, Shane or Andrew— will Callie choose in the end? Now, I’m not saying that I like where it seems to be headed (let it be Andrew, pleeeeeease), but I love to see Callie figure it out, figure herself out and make the decision.

Great story. Wonderful read. I cannot wait to start reading Material Witness, the last of the series.

5 stars out of 5

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