Author’s mystery explores
Amish hair, beard crimes
The charges of hate crimes and kidnapping that arose in Bergholz, where the beards and hair of Amish men and women were forcibly shorn, brought international attention to the tiny Jefferson County village. Tallmadge author Amanda Flower brings sensitivity to her topical subject in A Plain Scandal, second in her Appleseed Creek Mystery series.
Chloe Humphrey, the narrator, has settled into a beautiful old house in Appleseed Creek, home of the small college where she works as director of computer services. She shares the house with Becky Troyer, whom she helped in A Plain Death, the first book, and has a wholesome crush on Becky’s brother Timothy, a contractor.
Chloe learns that several young Amish women have been attacked by someone who cut off their hair, and when visiting Timothy’s work site, she finds the body of an Amish man whose beard has been cut. Chloe’s friendship with the Troyer family is endangered by the new bishop, who is encouraging the Amish families in his district to avoid them because she’s friendly with Becky and Timothy, who left the faith before Chloe ever came to town.
The story includes the two best characters from the first book: the delightful Grandfather Zook, and Greta Rose, Appleseed Creek’s chief of police. There especially can’t be too much of Grandfather Zook.
A Plain Scandal (336 pages, softcover) costs $14.99 from B&H Fiction. Amanda Flower is a librarian at Hiram College; Maid of Murder, the first book in her India Hayes series, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Two more series, one under the name Isabella Alan and one for young readers, are forthcoming.
‘Reluctant Debutante’ sequel released
In The Reluctant Debutante, Oberlin writer Becky Lower’s historical e-book, 1855 suffragette firebrand Ginger Fitzpatrick meets half-Ojibwa Joseph Lafontaine and has an exciting romance. The sequel, The Abolitionist’s Secret, is set in the following year, when Ginger’s sisters, twins Heather and Jasmine, are expected to make their debuts in a season of cotillions and balls.
Heather and her parents, though they have no practical experience, are sincere abolitionists, while Jasmine is indifferent. As Heather and her parents are dining at a restaurant, they meet a handsome Army officer from Georgia, and also see some men who are looking for an escaped slave. The Fitzpatricks see the chance to advance their beliefs when they find the slave hiding in an alley with her child, and offer her their protection.
Heather and David, the officer, begin a whirlwind romance; he describes life on his Georgia plantation as she denounces the practice of slavery, which he at first tries to rationalize. Jasmine, resentful of Heather’s courtship, becomes petulant and later devious, but “devious” has nothing on David’s mother, a vicious harpy who tries everything she can to discredit and slander Jasmine, including endangering her life.
The Abolitionist’s Secret (415KB) costs $4.99 for Kindle from Crimson Romance. According to the author’s website, the next book in the Cotillion Ball series is Banking on Temperance, in which brother Basil Fitzpatrick meets Oregon-bound pioneer Temperance Jones. It will be released in May.
My Friend Dahmer, the nonfiction graphic novel by former Beacon Journal artist Derf Backderf, is the recipient of an Alex Award from the American Library Association, as one of the “10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences.”
Case Western Reserve University (Iris S. and Bert L. Wolstein Building, 2103 Cornell Road) — Cleveland native Daniel Stashower, winner of Edgar, Agatha and Anthony awards, reads from The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War, 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday.
Market Garden Brewery (1947 W. 25th St., Cleveland) — Pauline Chen, author of The Red Chamber, inspired by the 18th-century Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber, and Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Michael Heaton read from and sign their works from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Shaker Library (16500 Van Aken Blvd., Shaker Heights) — Shaker Heights author Kellie Bellamy Tayer joins the library’s Meet the Author series with her young-adult fantasy The Gypsy Thief, 6 p.m. Wednesday. Registration requested; call 216-991-2030.
E.J. Thomas Hall (198 Hill St., Akron) — Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, speaks as part of the University of Akron Forum Series, 7:30 p.m. Thursday. $10; call 330-972-7570.
Visible Voice Books (1023 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland) — Kevin P. Keating signs his story collection The Natural Order of Things, 7 to 9 p.m. Friday.
Old Trail School (2315 Ira Road, Bath) — Authors of the Akron Manuscript Club will sign their works at the Countryside Farmers’ Market, 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson) — Kelly Grealis signs her debut novel The Descendant, a Bible-themed novel about a woman who discovers she is a descendant of the first vampire, 1 p.m. Saturday.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (Strongsville branch, 18700 Westwood Drive) — Marc Gillinov and Steven Nissen, authors of Heart 411: The Only Guide to Heart Health You’ll Ever Need, talk about and sign their book from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Registration required; call 440-238-5530.
Mac’s Backs (1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights) — Poets Mwabatu Okantah and Mary Weems read from their work, 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Barnes & Noble (4015 Medina Road, Bath Township) — Douglas Ewan Cameron, author of Payback Is a Bitch, will sign his first novel, The Body in the Perch Pond, an Up North Mystery, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
— Barbara McIntyre
Special to the Beacon Journal
Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.