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A Simple Murder    by Eleanor Kuhns order for
Simple Murder
by Eleanor Kuhns
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2014 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The Revolutionary War is over and William Rees loses his wife shortly after he returns home. Devastated, he travels the roads as a weaver, leaving his son David in the care of his sister and brother-in-law to whom, in return for raising his son, he has given the use of his farm.

Finding that his son has been treated as a slave while he was gone makes him feel very guilty for abandoning his boy to unworthy people. Who are family! How could they do this? He learns that David, now fourteen, has run off to the nearby Shaker community, a secluded religious sect, where he is treated with kindness and caring. Locating the community, he ventures to find David. Unfortunately, a woman is murdered and Rees takes on the task of finding her murderer.

This pledge plunges him into much more than he anticipated. Neighboring people are involved. In what way, Rees is not sure, but as the bodies pile up his fears for his son and the Shakers intensify. The Shakers are a viable sect but do not approve of marriage. A covenant must be signed where the petitioner takes a pledge of chastity and turns over all his worldly goods to the Shakers in return for a place in the community for life.

I live near an old Shaker community site that is now a tourist attraction. I've never understood their reasoning to have someone carry on your work when you are gone, children must be conceived and raised. But it worked for them until they ran out of individuals to handle the everyday workings of a community. A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns won the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition. Quite an accomplishment and a good book.

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