When I started reading Mindy Starns Clark's books several years ago, I quickly fell in love with them. Her Christian mysteries are always engrossing. So it's a bit of a surprised that it's taken me 9 months to get to Secrets of Harmony Grove. It was another winner.
Sienna Collins is returning from a wonderful trip for her new PR firm. But instead of being hailed as a hero like she expects, she finds her bosses waiting for her to put her on suspension pending the outcome of a Federal Investigation. Sienna didn't even know she was being investigated, so this throws her for a loop.
A couple hours later, she gets a strange phone call from ex-boyfriend Troy. He is asking about some diamonds rumored to be in the family, but he sounds like he is suffering from the heat. After they get cut off, Sienna can't reach him, so she drives down to the Harmony Bed and Breakfast, a side venture she owns in Amish country. And that's where she finds Troy dead and all kind of strange rumors about what might have caused his death. How did Troy died? Why was he asking about the diamonds? And what might any of this have to do with the federal investigation?
As is usually the case, this book starts off with a bang, and I was quickly drawn into the story. As it unfolds, we get quite a bit of Collins family history. Most of it is interesting and relevant, but at times it feels like a data dump that is slowing the story down. I'm not quite sure how those portions should have been better handled since parts of the plot do hinge on the information. Other parts of it are very powerful. In the end, the climax is exciting and all the strange bits and pieces of the plot are explained completely.
Sienna is not only the main character, but our viewpoint character since the novel is written in first person. She is very well developed with parts of her personal history factoring into who she is today and driving the story. Most of the other characters are well developed as well, although some of them could have used a bit more depth.
Since the book is set in Amish country, several of the characters are Amish. The portrayal of them and their lifestyle was interesting. It is loving, but it also shows that their life is not as perfect or simple as we often think of it.
This is the first Christian mystery I remember reading where any kind of denominational differences are even mentioned. It's a minor part of the story, but I found that refreshing. As a whole, the Christian aspect added to the book and helped develop Sienna.
Some of Mindy's early books suffered from clunky writing. That's no longer the case, and the polished prose drew me into the story right away.
All this leaves me with one question, why did I wait so long to read Secrets of Harmony Grove? This book won't disappoint Mindy's fans and might even bring her some new ones.
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