Robert F. (Charleston, IL)
An impressive first novel
I like mysteries, especially procedurals, and I like historical novels, and this book satisfied me on both counts. The setting (1796 in a Shaker settlement in Maine) puts some interesting constraints on the procedure for solving the crime, but it also sets up the intriguing twists and subplots that fill out the main narrative. The central character, Will Rees, is the perfect "detective" for this situation; he's likable and credibly motivated. His relationship with his son, who has run away to join the Shakers, adds a warm human counterpoint to the attempts to solve the mystery--and it's not just tacked one; it's an integral part of the story. The other characterizations (especially those of Lydia Jane Farrell and Sheriff Coulton) are equally engaging, and persuasively woven into the plot. The storyline becomes complicated--a bit too much, I think--but the unraveling of the crimes is clear and satisfying: I didn't feel cheated or fooled. I suspect that Will and Lydia Jane appear again in a sequel or two. I hope so.
Paula K. (Cave Creek, AZ)
Amazing First Novel
A Simple Murder is the first published book by Eleanor Kuhns and I had the good fortune of receiving a First Impressions copy. The book is terrific – an amazing first effort and even better, promises a series. I became so enthralled with the characters, the locale and the mystery, I read the book over a period of two days! The story is set in 1796 when widower William Rees, a weaver by trade, returns to his farm from a round of travels, only to discover his 14-year old son, left in his sister’s keeping, has left home to join the Shakers. Rees travels to the Shaker community to bring his son home and is requested to solve the murder of a Shaker sister. This was the book’s one soft spot – the implausibility of why both the town sheriff and the Shaker elder would approve of an outsider to solve the crime, and Rees’ son’s recommendation that his father be considered for the task. The younger Rees is full of recrimination for his father’s abandonment at the hands of his aunt who packs him off so she and her nasty husband can assume wrongful ownership of Rees’ farm. In addition to Rees’ work to solve the murder, there are many dynamics at work in the book and many characters that can be a bit tricky to track. The Shaker village setting is most compelling and the selfless devotion to community an interesting counterpoint to the greed that serves as the backdrop of the book. I enjoyed learning a bit more about the Shakers and found the language and descriptions to be quite authentic. The resolution was terrifically satisfying and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. I am a fan!
Barbara S. (Glen Ellyn, Illinois)
A Simple Murder
The mystery, A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns was utterly captivating from the first paragraph to the last. The Shaker settlement in Maine was the setting for a deep mystery, involving Shakers, a detective and family members. It was very enlightening to see the life style of the Shakers in this book. I could not put it down. I highly recommend this story and look forward to other books published by Eleanor Kuhns.
Mary Ann B. (Louisville, KY)
A simple Murder
A Simple Murder is a satisfactory story. It has a mystery that needs to be solved, and is, but the story is lacking. I just didn't care about the characters. The story moved at a slow pace, but it was easily predictable on who committed the crimes.
Anna R. (Oak Ridge, TN)
Last week when I went to a doctor's appointment I took "A Simple Murder" with me. When I was called back to see the doctor I was so upset because I wanted to sit and read this book! It has a great plot, believeable characters, and an unusual setting. 1796 in a Shaker community is not where you would expect a murder mystery to be placed.Having visited a Shaker village in Kentucky helped in "seeing" the community in the story. Also, I was interested in the weaving because a good friend of mine is a weaver. This is a great book. I loved it and hope there will be more stores about Will Rees solving mysteries.
Barbara E. (rockville, MD)
A Simple Murder
I found this book disappointing and rather superficial. I found the book slow going in the beginning and I didn't really get much of a feeling for the characters, the time or the place. The mystery itself is somewhat interesting, but the setting of a Shaker community in 18th-century New England adds nothing to it. I wanted to know more about the Shakers as a religious community and especially why there was such animosity towards them. When all the suspects are gathered together at the end, a la Agatha Christie, the revelation of the murderer seems to come from nowhere. How Will Rees determines the connection between the victims and the murderer is unexplained. The relationship between Will and Lydia and Will's son, David, was more interesting than the actual mystery itself.
Marsha S. (Nags Head, NC)
A Simple Murder
This one has it all - a whodunit in a historical setting, family drama, interesting characters, unusual setting, an almost-love story. Devoured in 2 evenings, and I can't wait for more. This book should appeal to a wide range of readers, men and women alike, and be of interest for book club discussion because of the human aspect in the father-son relationship. Hope the promise of a series comes true, I can see Rees as a character to follow.