Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book Review: Suspendered Sentence by Laura Bradford (Amish Mysteries #4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and story that shows them off
Cons: A little overwritten at times, but a minor issue.
The Bottom Line:
Long buried body
Secrets revealed today
Compelling reading

You are Hereby Sentenced to another Great Read

I’m so glad I started Laura Bradford’s Amish mysteries.  To show you how much I’ve enjoyed them, I’ve just finished Suspendered Sentence and am now up to date on the four book series.  When you consider the books waiting on my TBR stacks to be read, reading all four books this year is really saying something.

The series focuses on Claire Weatherly, who has moved to the town of Heavenly, Pennsylvania.  She’s living with her aunt Diane and helping a little with the bed and breakfast that Diane runs in town, but Claire’s also opened a shop specializing in selling items that the local Amish make.  Through the shop, she’s made many friends in the English and Amish communities and those friendships get her involved in the local mysteries.

A barn fire on the Stoltzfus farm brings the entire Amish community together to rebuild.  However, in the middle of the barn raising, bones are found on the farm.  They are quickly identified as the bones of Sadie Lehman, who disappeared almost 20 years earlier while in the middle of her Rumspringa, the time when Amish youth experience the life of the English to see if they want to stay in the Amish community or leave.

The discovery of Sadie’s body on what was her family farm at the time of her disappearance reopens the two decade old mystery.  Once again, Claire finds herself drawn into the mystery as her friends in both parts of town are affected by the discovery.  But what really happened to Sadie? And what will these new revelations mean for those alive today?

What is truly amazing about these books is the way they draw me in.  When I pick one up, I’m no longer in Southern California but in this small town on the other side of the country.  These people and places are that real to me.  Yes, the new characters are just as vivid within a few pages as the characters we’ve gotten to know for the previous three books.  And the returning characters?  The growth we see here is amazing, and I was glad to see it.  Characters are clearly Laura’s strength.

I will admit, the plot could be a bit stronger.  I figured as couple things out early, although I didn’t figure it all out until the end.  But the book really isn’t about the twists but about how the secrets coming to light are impacting the characters.  And make no mistake about it, there are secrets waiting to be uncovered.  The ending felt a tad rushed to me, but everything did make sense before I turned the last page.

The book also feels a little over written at times, especially when we are digging into Claire’s feelings.  There were a few times I rolled my eyes at what we were told, but maybe that’s because I’m a guy.

Honestly, both of these are very minor complaint, however.  As I said, the characters have drawn me in for four books so far, and I have really enjoyed the ride.

I’m definitely looking forward to book 5, which hits shelves this coming March.  In the meantime, if you haven’t picked up Suspendered Sentence yet, do so today and get lost in a great story.

You'll appreciate the character growth best if you read the Amish Mysteries in order.


  1. Thank you, Mark! Glad you're enjoying the series!! :)

    1. Thanks for the great books. And looking forward to your new series next year, too.

  2. I totally agree with you, her characters and setting draw you right in. Every book I read I feel like I'm there, I can almost hear the clip clop of the horses.

    1. Yes, I hear the clip clop of the horses, too. Such a great world to get lost in.