A nosy newsman sets the Amish world of Stone Mill on its ear.
Bill Billingsly’s stock in trade are the secrets he shares freely in the gossip column of a local paper. He’s already shamed Joab and Annie Hershberger by revealing that their son is living in sin with an “English” girl in Delaware. Now he threatens to tell the world that innkeeper Rachel Mast was convicted of insider trading when she worked for Lehman Brothers. Although she’s left the high-pressure world of Wall Street behind, even as she had left the quiet world of the Old Order Amish years earlier, Rachel dreads how Billingsly’s revelation will disrupt the fragile peace she’s made with her family. Before Bill can blab, though, someone kills him by binding him to his porch railing and drenching him with water, leaving him to freeze. Of course, Rachel isn’t the only one with secrets to hide. Local potter Blade Finch quietly ditched his book group the night of the murder. Elderly Hulda Schenfeld tells Rachel that Bishop Abner Chupp may have had an illicit relationship before marrying his current wife, Naamah. So Rachel embarks on an unofficial investigation, partly to clear her own name, partly to restore her damaged relationship with her fiance, Pennsylvania state police detective Evan Parks, who’s naturally called in to lead the official inquiry.
Amiable Rachel’s not at her best as she badgers friends and neighbors. Still, Miller’s third report from Stone Mill achieves better balance than Plain Killing (2014), merging a well-informed look into the tranquil world of the Amish with a fairly edgy puzzler.