Donna N. (casa grande, AZ)
An interesting start to a new series
I found this to be a light enjoyable mystery with an interesting setting. The story kept my attention and the characters were ones that I found appealing; however, I did think the characters were more modern than historically accurate. In the beginning I felt that some of the writing was not smooth and the dialog somewhat simple. It would not be on my recommended list, but I would like to see a sequel and would read the next book. I think the author's writing will definitely improve.
Mary B. (St Paul, MN)
A Simple Murder
The story is very interesting with the events taking place in 1796. A variety of characters add to the sense of mystery. I would like to see several of the central characters continue their adventures!
Gail L. (Cypress, TX)
A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns
I was disappointed with this book for several reasons. First, the writing style is boring.
The book is written at a low reading level, appropriate for young readers, but the material is more suitable for adults.
I enjoy historical fiction, but I discovered little history in this book. The story was
interesting and the Shaker community was reasonably represented.
I honestly do not recommend this book for young adults or the mature reader.
avid (Springfield, IL)
This book just seemed way off to me. The historical context was a little shaky, as the book was set in a year when the Shakers may or may not have been a nascent presence in Maine, but surely had not had time to develop the reputation to outsiders that was depicted in the book, nor many of the traditions and organizational hierarchies referenced. Likewise, a pervasive reference to toothpicks being spit out and replaced was distracting, as disposable toothpicks were not invented until the 1830's, about 40 years after the setting in the book.
Historical context aside, I thought the author needlessly developed too many peripheral characters, creating confusion as to their significance. The conflict relating to the main character's sister's family being removed from the farm was never resolved (did they go quietly? did a fight ensue? was a relationship preserved or destroyed?), although the conflict was developed and referenced many times throughout the book.
The ending's social situation was predictable. The convoluted explanation of bloodlines really muddled the whodunit aspect. The plot never pulled me in or held me in suspense. I really had to force myself to finish.
Loretta F. (Fountain Inn, SC)
An Unremarkable Mystery
My favorite genre is mysteries and my second favorite is historical fiction, and I found this book disappointing on both levels. I think that the author could have improved the mystery by developing the characters more fully, especially those in the Shaker community. Also, more details about Shaker beliefs, their history, and their place in the community would have added greatly to the setting. I read historical fiction to learn about a certain period in history, and to be transported back in time. Somehow, while reading this book, I did not feel that I was back in the late 1700's.
Anna S. (Auburn, AL)
A Not-So-Simple Murder
I enjoyed the story and learned a great deal about the Shakers, and I really wanted to be able to rate the book higher. There were two things that I found off-putting. First, I found the dialog and general sensibility more typical of the 21st Century than the 19th, and second, there were too many loose ends left hanging.
Marion H. (Los Angeles, CA)
No DNA, no finger prints, no video cameras - utterly no technology is used in the solution of a murder mystery which takes place in 1796 America. Boring? Definitely not! In her first novel Eleanor Kuhns demonstrates nuanced character development and complex plot lines that engage the reader to the very last page of this novel. Kuhns' itinerant weaver-detective, William Rees' skills closely align to Sherlock Holmes', where extraordinary common sense and thoughtful insight solve the crime. And because Kuhns' good writing skills enable you to take this journey with Rees, you will need to find more than a few hours to complete the whole book.