Where Hope Dwells

Where Hope Dwells (Sugarcreek Amish Mystery #2) by Elizabeth Ludwig

It has been a while since I’ve reviewed one of these so quick recap. The Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries are part of the Christian Inspirational series, so they are clean mysteries. No murder, no swearing, no sex. Mysterious happenings and investigation.

In this series, Cheryl Cooper was ready for a change. Her boyfriend turned out to be a stuck up prig, she disliked her job as a banker in Columbus, Ohio; so when her aunt called her asking her to take over her shop in an Amish community while she goes overseas as a missionary-Cheryl jumped at the chance. She quickly falls in love with the Amish town and finds herself in the middle of a few mysteries.

Plot Summary:

After all the mysterious things that occurred in October (and the last book, Blessings in Disguise) things have calmed down and Cheryl has grown to deeply love Sugarcreek, made some friends, and hopes she gets stay here for a long time.

She also has grown to like Levi Miller, an Amish bachlor, but doesn’t want to cross lines that should never be crossed. So for now, she is just content to be his friend.

Now with it being November, Cheryl has been focusing on getting ready for the holidays. She also has been having to heavily stock her shop with baby items as it seems that everyone is having one, everyone except her.

From my sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife

One morning a tourist rushes in the shop and buys a bunch of baby items, running away fast.

Cheryl thinks it is odd, but doesn’t spend a lot of time  thinking on it as Naomi Miller, her best friend and surrogate mother/aunt (also the stepmother of Levi who she is crushing on) has arrived with the blankets they will be taking to her new friend Rebecca.

Rachel was born an “Englisher” and met her Amish husband Samuel, later converting. She and Cheryl have become really close as both find it wonderful to be with someone like them.

Cheryl goes to visit Rachel and see her babies, fraternal twins boys, but while she is there one is snatched from its crib. Now Naomi and Cheryl are set on discovering who the kidnapper is.

Cheryl has three suspects:

  1. The strange woman from her shop has been seen all over town buying up baby items even though she has no child with her. Always in a hurry. Could she have kidnapped the baby and trying to get supplies for him?
  2. Rebecca and Jeremiah Zook lost their little boy recently to leukemia. First Rebecca vanishes without a word and then Jeremiah also takes off. Could one of them have stolen the child and run away with it?
  3. The parents of Rachel disowned her after she left them for the Amish lifestyle. Even after hearing of the disappearance of their grandson they refuse to see her, and are planning on taking a vacation to Europe to adopt a child. Could they have stolen their grandson and are planning on pretending to “adopt it”?

Who could it be? Or is there another person involved they haven’t realized yet?

Thoughts After Reading:

This was not as good as the first one.

I liked Cheryl, Levi, and Naomi investigating together but in this Levi was missing from the whole book which threw the whole dynamic off.

This wasn’t as well paced as the previous novel as Cheryl happens on information rather than being able to actively investigate. The comedic and heartfelt moments were more on pointe in the other book as this one felt extremely rushed. Altogether, this was just too easily summed up and just not good.

I hope the next one is better.

For more Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries, go to Blessings in Disguise

For more Amish mysteries, go to The Lesson

For more kidnapping mysteries, go to What Strange Creatures

In the Woods

Borrowed from my sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

So every 17th I try to make an Irish recipe in honor of the day. Usually I make some Irish Soda Bread and something else to go with it. But this year the holiday falls on a Tuesday and I have an Irish mystery to post:

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana French

This book came out twelve years ago and it is funny but I remember exactly when it came out because the title makes me think of Into the Woods and I just love the cover.

So I had tried to read it before, but every time something got in the way and I had to return the book. I finally got a chance to read it, and actually wished I hadn’t. Why? You’ll see.

In 1984 Ireland, three kids went in the woods to have a picnic. 12-year olds Peter, Jamie, and Adam spend all their free time in the woods-no one knows that area better than them. Jamie is very upset that day as it was her last before being sent away to boarding school so her single mother could go back to school.

That’s not what I wrote!

They three are furious to be separated and run off into the woods. When they don’t come back at tea time, Jamie’s mother starts to get upset but just thinks the kids are protesting again. When they don’t come back at suppertime, the parents are extremely worried and a search party is taken up. All they find is Adam Roy, no trace of the other children anywhere.

Adam is in shock, up a tree, and his shoes and socks soaked in blood not his own. Apparently, the socks were soaked in the blood and the blood bled through to the shoes. Search parties continued, the police detectives were called in, but no hide or hair was ever found of the other children.

Adam and his family moved away, the parents sending him to boarding school in England. Adam changes his name from Adam to his middle name, Rob, and destroys all evidence that “Adam” existed.

He’s gone.

He went on to become a police detective, getting on the murder squad like he always wished. A woman, Cassie Maddox, gets transferred on to murder squad and none of the guys trust her or like her. Rob thinks about getting it on with Cassie, but after she completely roasts him the two become best friends and partners.

One day they are wasting time when a case comes up and Cassie grabs it. The two get sent to the crime scene of a murdered child in the woods of Knocknaree, the very place that Adam’s friends disappeared.

They get to the Woods and talk to those that found the 12-year old. An archeological dig is going on before the area is destroyed for a new freeway. The girl was discovered on an old Druid ceremonial rock. She was hit in the head twice, asphyxiated by a plastic bag over the head, and raped post-mortem with a wooden handle.

Everything about it seems off. Why showcase the dead body instead of burying it or throwing it in the river? Why was it planned to bring a rock to hit her, but her being barely knocked on the head having to finish her off with asphyxiation?

Things get stranger when they look at the family. The girl turns out to be Katy Devlin, daughter of Jonathan Devlin–the same Jonathan that Rob remembers from his childhood. He was a bad guy-smoking cigarettes, doing nothing, raping a woman. This colors Rib’s view of him as he immediately dislikes him.

Bleh…

The family is odd though. Jonathan loved and idolized his daughter Katy and is heartbroken that she is dead, his favorite daughter.

Hmm…

Margaret Devlin, the wife, is really out of it, it seems as if she is on drugs. Aunt Vera, her sister, acts like the creepy grandma in Flowers in the Attic, skulking around.

This is not good

The other two daughters are strange as well. Katy’s twin Jessica is so out of it-doesn’t talk, hardly moves, just stares blankly into space…

Rosalind the eldest, seems upset, but also like she isn’t really that upset. She’s dramatic, treats Rob like a lover and is just odd. Like she is pretending to be older than her years.

The archeologists are just as strange. The absent-minded archeologist leader is scatter-brained, out of touch, and doesn’t know which way is up-but manages to put on a well oiled plan of excavation.

Mark, one of the other archeologists-angry, sharp, mean, an atheist, and yet performs druid libations on the stones.

Hmm…

Damian, another archeologist, and a quiet little boy who could be knocked over by a leaf.

Hmm…

Then there are the people who are pushing the freeway, they threatened the Devlins as Jonathan is the leader of the freeway protest.

Hmm…

And of course, her body was found on a Druid sacrificial stone-so is it cult related?

Roy, Cassie, and Detective Sam O’Neil are searching for the truth but find it opening up all kinds of wounds and secrets. Not only is the murder of a child extremely hard, but Sam loses his innocence as he discovers the people he trusted were not on the straight and narrow as he thought; Cassie has to deal with the domestic abuse and manipulations she faced on the past and things in the present are bringing up flashbacks; and Rob-well he has gone back to the place he never wanted to again-Knocknaree.

Will they discover the truth or will it stay unsolved as Jamie and Peter’s murder was?

Hmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

So I didn’t like this book. Adam/Rob is our narrator and admits in the beginning of the book that he is liar so it is hard to trust him. He reminds me a lot of Holden in Catcher in the Rye, so annoying.

Seriously!

It reminded me a bit of Moby-Dick, the summary is more interesting than the actual novel as the main character is annoying and constantly waxing on about his philosophy or random thoughts. It is even more annoying as he is a detective that does very little detecting.

It is like really dude? Get to work!

He is such a man child as he describes the best two years of his life was when he was living in a room doing nothing while Charlie was going to university and Charlie was disgusted with his lifestyle and the mess of a house? Plus he complains he has to rent a room from Heather (who mothers him in a lot of ways) as there is no place for him to afford and he is saving to move out when Cassie has her own apartment and moved there after him and presumably makes the same amount of money.

So annoying!

He’s also a complete narcissist, only caring about himself. He hates visiting his parents and seeing them, only cares about how they relate to him, thinks everything has to do with him, everyone is talking about him, etc.

We all know how they think highly of themselves, and only themselves, but Rob also exhibits this:

  • Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment
  • Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
  • React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
  • Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
  • Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
  • Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
  • Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation

This guy!

Plus I hated the ending. The death of Katy had a great twist bit but they never tell you what happened to Jamie and Peter. Ugh, so infuriating!!!

Let me know!!!

For more mysteries with child disappearances, go to The Key to Midnight

For more Saint Patrick’s Day recipes, go to Irish Potato Pie

For more mysteries, go to The Thumb Mark of St. Peter

The Key to Midnight

The Key to Midnight by Dean Koontz

Thoughts Before Reading:

I had a Dean Koontz phase. I read almost all his books until I had burnout and moved on to something else. It all started at a book sale:

And this book was one I really enjoyed.

Plot Synopsis

Johanna Rand is an American singer who has lived in Japan about ten years. She loves living in Japan and her job at the Moonglow Lounge.

The only thing she doesn’t love, she constantly has these nightmares about a man with steel fingers and a hypodermic needle-violating and assaulting her. She would wake up and feel as if it just happened.

Alex Hunter, private investigator, is vacationing in Japan. He sees Johanna and is struck by her beauty and voice. She looks so familiar, but when they talk-there is no recognition. He spends a wonderful time and the two fall for each other-hard.

The next day, Alex is getting ready when it hits him! He knows where he knows her from-she’s Lisa Chelgrin.

He is sure she is Lisa and questions her on their date. Everything matches up that it could be the same girl, but he doesn’t want to scare her off or frighten her as he waits until he has proof as to who she is.

I’ve got to play this cool.

The two spend time together and he begins to wake up the memories so long hidden. But what they uncover is a deeper, darker, secret than either had imagined!

Oh no!

Thoughts After Reading:

So this one I thought was really good. It was pretty heavy on the romance, but otherwise kept you guessing. I never saw that ending coming!

For more missing children, go to Candy from a Stranger

For more books from a library book sale, go to Real Murders

For more books with private investigators, go to Lowcountry Bombshell

For more books not in a series, go to An Unwanted Guest

Candy from a Stranger

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Candy from a Stranger by Daryl Buckner

I received this book free from Netgalley, in return for an honest review.

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Ben Cain has his Phd in psychology and teaches at the community college in a town where he can do the teaching he loves, but take off and go fishing on the weekends. Him and his family live an ideal life.

That all changes when his eight-year old boy disappears on his way to the park. Being unable to cope without having the answers, without having his son; Cain sets off to find the person who took him and make him pay.

Sadly, the police have no leads. After investigating whether or not Cain actually murdered his own child they have come up empty.

Cain will not let it go, even though his wife has left him and returned to Washington to her parents. Cain instead launches his own investigation, believing that this is a serial kidnapper/killer and starts searching to see what other children fit this profile.

He starts tracking down families and going out to question them; when he ends up being in the places as the abductions happen. And the number one suspect for the Police and FBI.

Cain has a suspect based on the food wrappers, and starts searching for the guy, trying to follow him and find more information on him.

But this doesn’t deter Cain as he finds a boy that fits the profile and moves next door watching and stalking him, in order to protect him and catch the killer, along with hoping to discover the truth about what happened to his son.

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I liked the idea of the tale of the missing child being told from a father’s point of view as that is not something really seen. However, I did not enjoy this book.

I felt the character was hard to connect to as they appeared so distraught that they had behavior that was really out there. From a character view it was well-done, from being the narrator of the story it made it difficult to read.

I also dislike that the author reveals who the kidnapper is so early on in the book, along with the way they portray police.

For more mysteries featuring disappearances, go to The Turquoise Trail Mystery

For more mysteries featuring kidnapping, go to Iced

For more serial killers, go to Psycho

For more not-in-a-series-mysteries, go to The Disappearance of Edwin Drood

In other news this is my 300th post

To go to the 200th post, go to The Murders in Rue Morgue