Monday, November 4, 2013

A Plain Disappearance, by Amanda Flower

On her first date with Timothy Troyer, Chloe Humphrey couldn’t be happier. A beautiful place, a romantic setting, soft snow, a sweet gift, and… a dead girl? And not just any girl: she’s a beautiful Amish teenager. Chloe is, once again, in the middle of a mystery: was she murdered? If she was murdered, by whom? How? Why? And when the evidence starts to point towards Timothy’s friend, Billy Thorpe, he joins forces with Chloe to try to prove his friend’s innocence. But Billy is nowhere to be found and when they discover that he is not who he says he is and that he is far more dangerous than he has let on, Chloe and Timothy set out to find him to confront him and bring him to justice, or prove his innocence.

This is a very entertaining book; a very light read with really well developed characters that make the book fun and interesting. Chloe is bright, bold and a risk taker. Her roommate (and Timothy’s sister) Becky is vivacious, fun but conflicted. Chief Rose is very unique in her own way, tough, brash and strong. Tanisha, Chloe’s best friend, is funny and smart. Grandpa Zook (Timothy’s grandfather) is a wonderfully colorful character, as well as most of the family. Chloe as the lead and these secondary characters make the series and this book in particular a great read.

However, Timothy, the male lead, stands in contrast with the rest: he is calmer, a little bit of a pushover and somewhat bland. He is very romantic and sweet, but with so many interesting characters in the book, Timothy stands apart lacking the depth and intriguing factor that the rest have. Even the troublemaker, Brock, who in the past and along with his best friend has made Chloe’s and Becky’s life miserable, has a great side story that was a nice, unexpected twist in the story.

As well as in the first two books of this series, we have a murder and Chloe in the right place at the right time for the murder’s discovery. The way the author writes, the mystery is always fun to unravel and intriguing. It does have some slight suspense, but this is not a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat. However, that does not take away from the book and your enjoyment of it. The fact that the action develops too slowly is what can frustrate you. Since it is a simple murder mystery, with a couple of red herrings, a few side stories are to be expected and welcomed. And here we have a very endearing one, very unexpected and surprisingly sweet showing God’s mercy in using us to impact others with our example even with the people we least expect it. That side story alone is worth reading through parts that just seem to drag the main story. But, even though some of the narration reads as if the author was just trying to lengthen the story, no side story here is a filler. Each one complements the main story nicely.

Also nice, at least in the beginning, is the romance between Chloe and Timothy and the charming attraction between Becky and Aaron. It is very evident that Timothy is very much in love with Chloe, and he is so sweet to her. But that relationship has been developing since the first book and by now it’s just moving painfully slow. The attraction between Becky and Aaron, Timothy’s best friend, is much more interesting and would make a great main story for another book.

Although the author follows the same line as before, casting a dark shadow over some Amish characters, this time around the Amish are presented in a better, more flattering light. It is not common to find an author willing to explore the unfriendly side of the Amish, at least not to the extend author Amanda Flower has, so it is a different, interesting take.

This is the third book in the Appleseed Creek Mystery series, and it is pretty evident, but it can be read alone. However, I would highly recommend to read them all and in order, not only because they are quite good, but also because the reader can best appreciate the characters’ growth and development that way.

'A Plain Disappearance' is a very enjoyable murder mystery, with a very nice message of God’s work in us and through us.

3.5 stars out of 5

*I received a copy of this book from B&H Books through NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.

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