The Shaker Murders
Hardcover: 240 pages
February 1, 2019, $28.99
Series: Will Rees Mysteries (Book 6)
BOOK BLURB: A peaceful Shaker community is rocked by a series of bizarre accidents, but is there more to them than first appears?
Fresh from facing allegations of witchcraft and murder, travelling weaver Will Rees, his heavily pregnant wife Lydia and six adopted children take refuge in Zion, a Shaker community in rural Maine. Shortly after their arrival, screams in the night reveal a drowned body … but is it murder or an unfortunate accident? The Shaker Elders argue it was just an accident, but Rees believes otherwise.
As Will investigates further, more deaths follow and a young girl vanishes from the community. Haunted by nightmares for his family’s safety, Rees must rush to uncover the truth before the dreams can become reality and more lives are lost. Yet can the Shaker Elders be trusted, or is an outsider involved?
REVIEW: The story opens just as Rees and the family arrive at the Shaker community and right away the reader gets a sense that the transition from living outside in the World to being in the strict confines of the Shaker life will not be easy. Rees is accustomed to having his family around him, and the separation of men and women and children is hard for him, as are the other restrictions such as no unnecessary talking. We meet the first murder victim, Jabez, then quickly afterward meet Jonathan and Solomon, the two elders who impose rigid controls on Rees even after they give permission for him to investigate.
As someone who has not read the previous Will Rees mysteries, I wanted a little more information in the beginning as to how they came to the Shaker Community, and why, as well as where their former home had been. It’s explained that they are fleeing persecution in the city where they’d had been living, but there was no reason given for choosing to come to the Shakers. I also had a hard time figuring out the time period, and I think just a few more details would have helped me get oriented to the time and place. It took a couple of chapters for me to get fully invested in the story, and I would definitely recommend that readers start this series with the first book.
That said, the mystery was well-crafted, and the author did a great job leading us, and Rees, down a number of paths before he was able to focus on the real culprit. The characters were also deftly drawn and interesting, as were some of the sub-plots that complicated things for the family beyond the murders and disappearances.
This is a series well worth the read.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eleanor Kuhns is the 2011 winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel competition for A Simple Murder. The author of five previous Will Rees mysteries, she is the Assistant Director at the Goshen Public Library in Orange County, New York.
Visit her on her WEBSITE
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Please come back on Wednesday when Eleanor will be my guest with an interesting post about the Shakers. If you’re like me, your knowledge of them ends with just knowing the name of of sect.