Murder at the Courthouse
By A. H. Gabhart
A Hidden Springs Mystery, #1
Michael Keane's stressful days as a Columbus police officer are done. He's ready to relax into his new position as deputy sheriff in his sleepy hometown. Nothing ever happens in Hidden Springs, Kentucky--and that's just fine with Michael.
Nothing, that is, until a dead body is discovered on the courthouse steps. As Michael works to solve the case, it seems that every nosy resident in town has a theory. When the sheriff insists Michael check out one of these harebrained theories, his surprising discovery sends him on a bewildering search for a mysterious killer that has him questioning everything he has ever believed about life in Hidden Springs.
Bringing with her a knack for creating settings you want to visit and an uncanny ability to bring characters to life, A. H. Gabhart pens a whodunit that will keep you guessing.
I have long been a fan of cozy mysteries and it is so good to see one of this quality and character depth in Christian fiction. With its small-town setting, quirky and endearing characters, gentle humor, and romance, Murder at the Courthouse was a thoroughly enjoyable read for me.
Although this is Ann Gabhart’s first mystery, all the elements that I enjoy about her writing are present here as well. Just as in her Shaker village and other stories, Ann excels at realistically conveying small-town settings and character behavior - and in this book, the setting is Hidden Springs, Kentucky, a town that I might never leave once I visited. I’d like to share this review quote from one of my blogging friends, Amy, who lives in a similar small town: “We have people just like the characters in the book. You know the busybody who knows everyone, and everyone's business. The barber across the street, who listens to everyone's stories. The troubled teen, who needs to be loved. The lawyer, who handles those small town cases... none of them serious by the way. By the end of the book, you will feel like you know the Hidden Springs people and belong there. I know I did.” - Seasons of Opportunities
The first half of the book moves at a slower pace, but I never found it boring. Foundations are being laid and several characters are introduced, with the gradual development of backstories. The central character, deputy sheriff Michael Keane, is given personal characteristics and a backstory of heartbreaking loss that make him very appealing. Preferring small town life and relationships rather than big-city stress, he wants to make a difference by quietly touching people, such as the troubled youth, Anthony. Michael’s Aunt Lindy is probably my favorite character – a woman of devout faith who prayed and refused to give up on a younger Michael when he was seriously injured.
The romance between Michael and Alex is delightful, and I appreciated how it stayed in the background throughout, letting the murder come to the forefront. While I had a strong suspicion as to the culprit’s identity, that in no way lessened my enjoyment. Michael and Alex seem to face immovable obstacles in their romance, so I look forward to further development of their relationship.
I not only recommend Murder at the Courthouse to cozy mystery fans, but to all who enjoy character-driven stories with small-town settings. And here's what we can look forward to in July 2016 . . .
A. H. Gabhart is Ann H. Gabhart, bestselling author of many novels, including Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home, and several popular Shaker novels such as The Outsider, The Believer, and The Innocent. Ann grew up in a small rural town in Kentucky much like Hidden Springs, but she is happy to report nobody was ever murdered on her hometown's courthouse steps. Ann and her husband still live on a farm near that same little town in Kentucky.
Find Ann online at www.annhgabhart.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.