Sunday, December 30, 2012
A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns
Protagonist: William Rees
Setting: Durham, Maine, 1796
William Rees, a weaver, has chased his runaway son, David, 14, to the Zion Shaker community in Durham, Maine, in 1796. The community elders aren’t pleased to see him at first, but later they seek out his help. One of the Shaker women have been murdered; Rees has been known to solve small mysteries and he has an eye for detail.
The Shakers pair Rees with a chaperone of sorts, Lydia Jane Farrell, a former Shaker who is opinionated and outspoken. Although asked to leave the Shaker community, she still lives nearby, although no one will talk about her transgression.
This debut novel by a librarian won the First Crime Novel Award from Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books, and it is simple to see why. The story unspools slowly, and is not only about the murders (more than one, as it turns out). It’s about a father and son’s relationship, and about a community that struggles with its principles as it shuns the modern world.
This appears on its way to becoming a series. I'm looking forward to the second book.