Monday, April 18, 2011
Book Review: Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark/3.5 Stars
From the bestselling author of Shadows of Lancaster County comes an exciting new romantic mystery set in Amish country.
Sienna Collins, owner of the Harmony Grove Bed & Breakfast in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, learns that she is under investigation by the federal government for crimes she knows nothing about. A few hours later she finds her ex-boyfriend, Troy, dead, and her life and livelihood begin to spin wildly out of control. She begins to doubt everyone around her, even the handsome detective assigned to the case.
As Sienna tries to clear her name, she is forced to depend on her faith, the wisdom of the Amish, and the insight of the man she has recently begun dating. She’ll need all the help she can get, because the secret she uncovers in Harmony Grove end up threatening not just her bed-and-breakfast, but also her credibility, her beliefs, and ultimately her life.
Readers familiar with Mindy Starns Clark know that she is an incredible writer that can weave an intricate story together in a phenomenal way. Her plots are always complex and her characters believable. It is also very difficult to put down one of her novels because the action is always non-stop.
That said, Secrets of Harmony Grove was a rather complicated story. The plot, while interesting from the word "go," had way too many twists and turns. It was a mystery within a mystery, with a few other mysteries served on the side. With all of the subplots, it was not a surprising experience to find several lagging portions in the book.
Knowing that Clark has written another Amish/mystery story, it was a given that the two books were easy to compare against each other. While neither book was overtly Amish, each book featured parts of the Amish lifestyle that are not commonly mentioned in strictly Amish novels. For example, this novel dealt with mental illness and Amish ancestry, while her other novel explained the intricacies of DNA research and diseases among the Amish.
Readers who enjoy lighthearted stories may wish to bypass this particular novel. Clark is a very talented mystery author, but this novel, in particular, had a few scenes that were darker than her usual fare. It will be interesting to see how she has used this novel, as well as her previous Amish/mystery novel, as she branches out with co-writing Amish novels.