Tallmadge author creates?new Amish mystery novel

Tallmadge author Amanda Flower nabbed an Agatha Award nomination for Maid of Murder, her debut in the India Hayes mystery series, and followed it with a sequel, Murder in a Basket. Flower jumped from that series to an Amish mystery series; the Appleseed Creek novels soon will have a third installment.

Under the name Isabella Alan, Flower is writing yet another series. The Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries, about quilt shop owner Angela Braddock, kicked off in August with an e-novella, and now the first full-length book, Murder, Plain and Simple.

Fresh from a broken engagement in Dallas, Angie has inherited her aunt’s Holmes County quilt shop. The reception she receives in the town of Rolling Brook ranges from cordial to downright hostile, as in the case of Joseph Walker, the Amish woodworker who owns the shop next door. Joseph not only believes that the non-Amish should all leave town and that Angie has no business running the store, but that he is its rightful owner. Angie’s lawyer tells her there’s an uncomfortable little matter of a missing deed, so Joseph’s attitude seems threatening as well as unfriendly.

Angie looks all over for the deed before she goes home her first night at the shop, but somebody else might have found it — the person who kills Joseph in her storeroom. Though it seems there were plenty of other people with grudges against Joseph, Angie worries that she’s the prime suspect, and that the handsome sheriff will be hauling her in for murder. She also worries that her mother, back in Dallas, will be sending out invitations to the canceled wedding while Angie is hoping for a rebound romance in Ohio.

Alan populates her small town with eccentric shopkeepers, relentless council members and a pushy would-be journalist, enough to support more books in the series.

Murder, Plain and Simple (368 pages, softcover) costs $7.99 from Obsidian, an imprint of Penguin. The author is a college librarian; her Andi Boggs children’s series, under the Amanda Flower name, begins this month with Andi Unexpected.

‘Banking on Temperance’

Having found romances for two of the women in the wealthy antebellum New York Fitzpatrick family, Oberlin author Becky Lower now turns her attention to brother Basil in Banking on Temperance. In Book One of the e-book series, The Reluctant Debutante, firebrand women’s rights advocate Ginger fell for handsome Joseph Lafontaine, who won the approval of the Fitzpatrick family, but his Ojibwa heritage raised eyebrows among New York society, and the couple happily set out for the frontier of St. Louis, where Basil owns the branch of the family bank.

In Book Two, The Abolitionist’s Secret, sister Heather, who has been helping an escaped slave, falls for precisely the wrong man — a Georgia plantation owner’s son who’s trying to track the runaway. Her views lead to danger as well as heartache.

Temperance begins as an ailing Pennsylvania preacher and his family arrive at Basil’s bank to do some business; they had been planning to head west to Oregon, hoping to keep the young sons from the impending war.

But they’ve missed all the wagon trains, and so they’ll have to spend the winter in St. Louis. To help the family, Basil offers Temperance, the beautiful oldest daughter, a job cleaning the bank, but soon develops romantic feelings for her. Marrying Temperance would mean taking on her promise to her father that she will help get the family to Oregon, and so she casts her eyes elsewhere for a solution.

There’s some steam involved, and the novelty of a romance told partly from the perspective of a man. Book Four, The Tempestuous Debutante, will be out soon, following sister Jasmine’s quest to capture an English viscount whose stableboy is more interested. Banking on Temperance (395KB) costs $4.99 for Kindle or Nook.


•?The Coldest Night by Ohio Wesleyan University’s Robert Olmstead is a finalist in the fiction category of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, which recognizes work that “uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice and global understanding.” The book is the last installment in a trilogy, and contains a gripping account of the 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir. The winners will be announced Sept. 24.

•?The Cuyahoga County Public Library Foundation has announced the 2013-2014 schedule for its William N. Skirball Writers Center Stage program. On Sept. 17, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay) and his wife, Ayelet Waldman (Bad Mother), will appear at PlayhouseSquare’s Ohio Theatre. Individual tickets are $45; the entire series of six programs is $130. See the schedule at www.writerscenterstage.org or call 216-664-6051.


Mac’s Backs (1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights) — Case Western Reserve University instructor Brad Ricca, author of Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the Creators of Superman, talks about and signs his book from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday.

Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson) — Massachusetts author Susan Branch, who writes the Heart of the Home cookbook and entertaining series, signs A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside, a travel journal including photos and original art, 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. The Learned Owl will present a three-part writers’ workshop beginning Sept. 15, continuing Oct. 13 with award-winning writer Josh Rolnick, and concluding Nov. 10 with screenwriter Jean Considine. 330-653-2252.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Beachwood branch, 25501 Shaker Blvd.) — Bob Grau talks about Five Million Steps: Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail, 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Visible Voice (1023 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland) — Doug Cooper talks about and signs his debut novel Outside In, about a jobless teacher losing his grip during a summer on Put-in-Bay, 7 to 9 p.m. Friday.

— 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 lsherwin@thebeaconjournal.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.