Lamb to the Slaughter by Karen Ann Hopkins

Lamb to the Slaughter

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A murder mystery that exposes the secretive world of an Amish community.

Serenity Adams has only been the sheriff of Blood Rock for a month when an Amish girl’s dead body is discovered. Hardened by a turn as a cop in the big city, Serenity suspects foul play despite some initial evidence that the girl could be the victim of a hunting accident. Serenity gradually learns that Naomi, the 18-year-old victim, was embroiled in two steamy romances at the same time, one with the Amish boy to whom she was engaged, another with an outsider who promised her the life of freedom she’d never known. The story is told from shifting perspectives: In flashbacks, both Serenity and Naomi get turns relating their tales, as does Daniel, the ruggedly handsome contractor who, having once been Amish, is helpful to Serenity’s investigation. Serenity finds herself constantly stymied by the insular Amish community, inhospitable to outsiders even if they carry the authority of law. Debut author Hopkins sensitively dissects that community’s inner workings, highlighting its struggle to resist influence from without, sometimes resorting to measures so draconian as to drive away its own members. The community’s impenetrability mirrors Serenity’s own emotional defensiveness, as evidenced by the way she tries to tame her gathering feelings for Daniel: “I felt a sudden wave of nervousness. I’d already been dealing with a fit of embarrassing shyness ever since Daniel had picked me up in his hard bodied (sic) Jeep and told me how nice I looked. What did he mean?” The narrative marches on to a steady beat, crescendoing in a violent conclusion made only slightly less exciting by the heavy-handed foreshadowing of the killer’s identity. Nevertheless, the suspense can be gripping and the insight into Amish life, fascinating.

A well-crafted tale of murder begotten by the collision of two incompatible worlds.

Pub Date: March 14th, 2014
Page count: 293pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
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