Murder, Handcrafted (Amish Quilt Shop Mystery)

BOOK: Murder, Handcrafted (Amish Quilt Shop Mystery)
13.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


“Isabella Alan captures Holmes County and the Amish life in a mystery that is nothing close to plain and simple, all stitched together with heart.”

—Avery Aames, Agatha Award–winning author of the Cheese Shop Mysteries

“Who can best run a quilt shop in Holmes County’s Amish country—an
outsider or only the Amish themselves? With its vast cast of English and Amish characters in fictional Rolling Brook, Ohio, Isabella Alan’s
Murder, Plain and Simple
will be a dead-certain hit with devotees of cozy mysteries.”

—P. L. Gaus, author of the Amish-Country Mysteries

“The Amish community and their traditions are nicely portrayed, adding great warmth and authenticity to the novel. . . . Angie’s fearless sleuthing keeps the action moving. [Her] relationship and family drama further enhance the plot.”

RT Book Reviews
(4 stars)

“At turns playful and engaging as the well-intentioned
strives to rescue her Ohioan Amish friends from a bad fate. . . . A satisfyingly complex cozy.”

Library Journal

“This is a community you’d like to visit, a shop where you’d find welcome . . . and people you’d want for friends. . . . There’s a lot of interesting information about Amish life, but it’s interwoven into the story line so the reader learns details as Angie does.”

—Kings River Life Magazine

Also by Isabella Alan

Plainly Murder
(a Penguin Special novella)

Murder, Plain and Simple

Murder, Simply Stitched

Murder, Served Simply

Murder, Plainly Read


Published by New American Library,

an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

This book is an original publication of New American Library.

Copyright © Penguin Random House LLC, 2016

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Obsidian and the Obsidian colophon are trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

For more information about Penguin Random House, visit

eBook ISBN 978-0-698-19265-2


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


For the Fisher family
Kathy, Jeff, Becca, and


As always
to my wonderful readers who love the Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries. I love receiving your notes and messages about Angie, Sheriff Mitchell, Oliver, Dodger, and of course, Petunia. It is because of you that I have loved writing this series.

Special thanks to my amazing editor, Laura Fazio, and superagent, Nicole Resciniti, who let me include a Bigfoot subplot to an Amish mystery. I know you were both a little worried about the idea, but with your help, it fits perfectly into the world of Rolling Brook that we have created together.

As always, love and gratitude to my plotter in crime, Mariellyn Grace, and my wonderful beta-reader, Molly Carroll. Thanks too to my feline editors, Reepicheep (Cheeps) and Mr. Tumnus (Tummy) for endless inspiration. Cheeps makes his cover model debut on this book as the inspiration for Dodger.

Thank you to the Grace and Queen families. You are my Bigfoot enthusiasts, and I hope my take on the myth makes you laugh.

Love to my family, Andy, Nicole, Isabella, and
Andrew, for supporting me through an extremely busy year.

Finally, I thank my Heavenly Father, for allowing me to spend so much of my time in a world of laughter and imagination.

Chapter One

he phrase “It looked so easy on YouTube” would go down in infamy in the annals of Braddock family history. It was what my father had said twice after he attempted to demo my mother’s kitchen in their new home in Holmes County.

The second phrase would be “You have no idea what your father’s been up to.”

I held my cell phone away from my ear as my mother screeched that last statement at me.

Mattie Miller, my twenty-two-year-old shop assistant, stocked the needle display in the front corner of the shop and raised her eyebrows at me, and I rolled my eyes in return. It was still morning and Running Stitch, my Amish quilt shop nestled in the center of Sugartree Street in Rolling Brook, Ohio, had just opened for the day. Through the large front window, I saw business on the street was beginning to pick up as early May tourists strolled from shop to shop. As usual, the first stop on any tourist’s itinerary was Miller’s Amish Bakery across the road from Running Stitch. I could see
my best friend and Mattie’s sister-in-law, Rachel, doing brisk business. A line of customers extended out of the bakery and curved along the sidewalk.

Oliver, my black-and-white French bulldog, lifted his head from his dog pillow, watching us with his big brown eyes. Dodger, my gray-and-white cat, jumped up onto the cutting table in the middle of the room and pranced back and forth.

“Get down,” Mattie hissed at the cat.

Dodger sat in the middle of the cutting table and began giving himself a thorough bath. It was a normal day at Running Stitch, except for my mother’s hysterical phone call. Then again, that wasn’t that unusual either.

When Mom took a breath, I moved the phone closer to my ear. “What did he do?”

“He threw his back out while removing the kitchen cabinets. I told him over and over to let me call a professional, but no, he insisted he could do it himself. I knew this would be a disaster,” she groaned.

“Is he all right?” Worry crept into my voice. Like my mother, I had wanted to discourage my father when he announced that he would be doing the demolition portion of my parents’ massive kitchen renovation. As a former corporate executive, Dad was a wiz with numbers, spreadsheets, and board meetings—DIY stuff, not so much. In the end, I said nothing because he had looked so pleased with himself to be taking on this home improvement project. I hadn’t had the heart to tell him it was a
bad idea. Ever since my father retired, he had been floundering in the search of a purpose. He
finally thought he had found it in my mother’s kitchen remodel. Who was I to squash that ambition?

“He’s in X-ray right now.” My mother sounded close to tears, and my mother never cried.

“Oh no,” I groaned. “Do you want me to come to the hospital? Is that where you are?”

“No, we’re at an X-ray clinic. That’s where our doctor sent us when I called and explained what happened. Then, we have an appointment with the doctor. He wanted the X-rays first.”

“Is Dad okay?”

“He will be. I’m sure.” She paused as if trying to collect herself. “If only that man wasn’t so stubborn.”

“What do you need me to do?” I asked.

“Go to the house. When your father knocked down the cabinet, he broke the French doors leading into the backyard. I need you to wait there until I can get home and figure out what to do about the doors.”

Outside the shop, I saw Jonah, my best childhood friend, riding by in his market wagon. The bed of the wagon was filled with crates of berries, and another Amish man with dark brown hair whom I didn’t know sat on one of the crates. Jonah tipped his black Amish hat at some tourists, who snapped a picture at him.

Jonah would know what to do. I had to catch him.

“Mom, I’ll be there as soon as I can.” I said a quick good-bye and headed for the door. “Mattie, I’ll be right back.”

“What happened?” Her gray eyes filled with concern as she smoothed her hands over her plain lavender dress and black apron. There wasn’t the tiniest
wrinkle in the fabric nor was there a loose piece of chestnut hair from her impeccable bun.

I didn’t stop to reply because I was hoping to catch Jonah before he disappeared from sight. I ran out of the shop. On the sidewalk, I called Jonah’s name.

He pulled back on the reins of his horse and turned in his bench seat to look at me.

I waved. As I ran up the sidewalk toward him, he maneuvered his horse to the side of the road so that the sedan behind him could pass.

“Angie?” Jonah asked with the usual sparkle of humor in his dark eyes. “What’s got you all worked up this morning?”

The man in the bed of the wagon shifted his seat on the crate of berries. Now that I was closer to him, I saw that he was much younger than I first thought. He couldn’t be more than twenty and was clean-shaven. In the Amish world a beardless face meant that he was unmarried.

I rested my hand on the side of the wagon. “It’s my dad. He hurt his back while demolishing their kitchen.”

Jonah grimaced and touched his sandy-blond beard that stopped at the second button of his plain navy-colored shirt. “What is your father doing a thing like that for?”

My fingers dug into the side of the wagon. “He thought he could manage it.”

Jonah shook his head. He had tried to teach my dad woodworking after Mom and Dad moved back to Ohio.
It had not gone well. It could have been worse, I supposed. Both Dad and Jonah came out of the experience with all their limbs intact.

“Mom said there is a broken door,” I said. “I need to go over to their house to see what needs to be done.”

“And you want me to come?” He smiled.

“Well, yeah.” I smiled.

He laughed. “Not a problem. Let me drop off these berries at the pie factory, and I’ll head straight there.” He nodded to the young man in the back of the wagon. “Do you mind if Eban comes with me?”

“That’s fine as long as you beat my mother there.” I nodded to the young man. “I’m Angie Braddock.”

“Eban Hoch,” he said with smiling light blue eyes. “It is
to meet you. I am new to the county and Jonah is showing me around.”

“Oh, where are you from?” I asked.

“A little ways up north in Wayne County.”

Jonah held up the reins. “We had better go if we want to beat your mother to the house.”

I stepped back from the wagon. “Thanks, Jonah.”

He winked and flicked the reins. The wagon and horse clattered down the street. I hurried back to Running Stitch. When I stepped in the shop, I was happy to see Mattie with a customer, who was closely examining my Aunt Eleanor’s stitches on a Goosefoot quilt.

I grabbed my hobo bag from the drawer under the sales counter and slipped it over my arm.

Mattie said something to the customer and stepped over to me. “Are you going out?”

I nodded and gave her a brief description of what was going on with my parents.

She covered her mouth. “Is your father okay?”

“I hope so. I don’t really know for sure. He was getting X-rays when Mom called.” I clicked my tongue. “Come, Oliver,” I said to my Frenchie, who was snoozing in his dog bed in the window. “We’re going to Grandma and Grandpa’s.”

The dog jumped to his feet. He loved going to my parents’ house. He mostly enjoyed this because my father constantly fed the little black-and-white dog beef jerky while we were there.

“You’re leaving Dodger here?” Mattie didn’t even bother to hide her distaste. She and my gray-and-white cat had a strained relationship.

“I can’t take him to my parents’ house,” I said. “Remember the last time he was there? He shredded my mom’s curtains, and she talked about it for weeks.”

Mattie pursed her lips. The cat still sitting on the cutting table cocked his head to one side as if in challenge. Mattie’s frown deepened.

Those two would be at each other’s throats the moment I stepped out of the shop.

“Dodger will be fine, and you won’t even have time to know what he’s up to. The street is filling up. I think it’s going to be a busy day.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of. That’s when he gets into the most trouble.” She eyed the cat with suspicion.

Oliver waited for me by the door.

“I’ll be back as soon as I can,” I told my assistant. “Just call my cell if you need anything.”

“You’ll be back by one, won’t you?” Mattie asked nervously. “I’m filling in at the pie factory later today, remember?”

“Yes, don’t worry. I’ll do my best to be back at one. I’ll call you if I can’t get away.”

Mattie chewed on her lip.

I didn’t have time to ask her what was wrong. Sometimes I wonder whether things would have gone much differently if I had.

BOOK: Murder, Handcrafted (Amish Quilt Shop Mystery)
13.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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