I’m so excited to share that my 40th mystery published, Marriage Can Be Mischief, the third novel in the Amish Matchmaker Mysteries came out this week. All you favorite characters from the Amish village of Harvest are back, including goat Phillip and Peter and Jethro the pig. Below, I’m share the the first few pages of the book. Enjoy!
Lois Henry pulled at her multi-colored geometric print blouse. “It’s so hot this evening, I feel like I’m baking bread in my shirt. When is this concert over? Is it running long? Or is that just me because I’m perspiring like Jethro the pig in the noonday sun?” She fanned her red face with the concert program.
Lois and I sat side by side in lawn chairs on the Harvest village square just before twilight. Around us, other villagers both Englisch and Amish shifted in their own seats as the middle school band concert dragged on. I felt the hair on the back of my neck curl from the humidity that at last report was at sixty percent, making the warm night air feel that much hotter. It was one of those few times that I saw the benefit of Lois’s air-conditioned house and car.
The businesses that encircled the square–the candy shop, cheese shop, and pretzel shop–had long been closed for the night. The only business still open was the Sunbeam Café, which was trying to take advantage of the Harvest concert series for a few extra sales. The large white church next to the café glowed in the sunset, looking more like a painting of a church than the real thing.
I patted away the dew on my forehead. “Pigs don’t actually sweat,” I said. “That’s why they wallow in mud and water on hot days to cool down.”
“I didn’t say it for an animal husbandry lesson,” she said. “Did you see what this humidity is doing to my hair?”
I turned in my lawn chair to have a better look at her. The chair, which Lois had purchased at the local flea market, was far from sturdy. In fact, I had a feeling it might break apart any second. I stopped twisting.
Lois’s typically upright, red-and-purple spiky hair drooped to the left side of her head. I didn’t say it, but it reminded me of a grassy field that had been bent over by the wind. “Your hair looks different from normal.” I felt this was the nicest way to put it.
“It’s going to take me an hour to set my hair again after tonight. People really don’t know how hard it is to look like this.” She picked at her hair with her long purple fingernails, but it did little to put her hair upright again.
I certainly didn’t know how hard it was. Lois’s appearance and mine could not be more different from each other. Although we were the same age, nearing the end of our sixties, and had grown up on the same county road, our upbringing had been very different. I grew up Amish, and Lois grew up Englisch. Even so, we had been the best of friends as girls and remained the best of friends to this very day.
However, I knew to many people we appeared to be an odd pair. I wore plain dress, sensible black tennis shoes, and a prayer cap. My long white hair was tied back in an Amish bun. Lois wore brightly colored clothes, chunky costume jewelry, heavy makeup, and had that striking haircut.
She leaned across the arm of her chair, and the seat made a dangerous creaking sound. “Did I sweat my eyebrows off?”
I shook my head. “Nee, they’re still there.” I did not add that they were looking a tad more wobbly than usual. It was certainly due to the trickle of sweat running down the side of her forehead. I had to agree with Lois: it was a hot night and the concert should have been over an hour ago. We weren’t the only ones who thought it had gone on too long–several couples and families had gotten up and left.
Lois shifted her folding lawn chair, and I found myself wincing with every creak and rattle the chair made. I didn’t want her to be hurt if it broke. Even though we were sitting on the grass square in the middle of the village of Harvest, any time you fall at our age, it can leave a mark.
“Careful, Lois, that chair is not as sturdy as you think it is,” I warned.
She bounced up and down in the chair. “Don’t be silly. It’s as sturdy as they come. They don’t make chairs like this anymore.” With her final bounce, there was a loud crack, and Lois and the chair went down.
I jumped out of my seat. “Lois, are you all right?”
The children playing in the band froze and stopped playing. The leader held his hands suspended in the air. Lois waved from the grass. “Keep playing. I’m fine.”
Several people from nearby blankets and chairs ran over to us. Two Englisch men helped Lois to her feet.
“Are you hurt?” I asked.
“Nothing more than a bruised ego, and that stopped bothering me twenty years ago.” She smiled. “If I became upset every time I fell over, I would be in a perpetual state of nerves.” She smiled at everyone who’d rushed over to help. “Thank you, you’re all too kind. Now, hurry back to your seats, so the concert can continue.”
After they were out of earshot, Lois said, “Because we need to move this concert along. It’s going on forever.” Lois rubbed the side of her leg. “I spoke too soon about not being hurt.”
“What’s wrong? Should we find a doctor of nurse?”
“No, no, it’s nothing as serious as all that. I just banged up my knee.”
“Let me at least get you some ice for it, and here–” I moved my chair next to her. “Sit in this until I get back.”
My chair was as unstable as hers had been, but it had to be better than her standing if her knee was bothering her. “Stay there. I will find the ice.”
She rubbed her knee. “We can only hope by the time you return, this concert will be over,” she whispered. Well, mostly whispered, but luckily the band had resumed its concert, making it hard to hear much of anything over the cymbals and drums. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.”
“All right,” I said. “Please, stay there, and I will find some ice.”
On the far side of the square there was a small concessions booth. I thought I would start there. If I didn’t have any luck, then I would run across the street to the Sunbeam Café and grab a cup of ice from Lois’s granddaughter, Darcy Woodin. I didn’t want to scare Darcy until I knew how badly Lois was hurt.
“Excuse me,” I said to the man waiting in line. “Can I just ask for some ice? My friend fell out of her chair and bumped her knee.”
The Englischer stepped aside. “I saw her go down. It looked like a nasty tumble.”
The girl inside the food trailer handed me a cup of ice and a fistful of paper towels.
I smiled at her. “Danki, this is so kind of you.”
“I’d hurry back to your friend if I were you. Margot Rawlings is headed this way, and she’s staring right at you.”
I looked over my shoulder and found that she was right. I thanked her again.
“Millie Fisher, can I have a word with you?” Margot called.
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Millie is happy that her childhood friend, Uriah Schrock, has returned to Harvest after decades away. He was sweet on Millie in their school days, but she only had eyes for her future husband. Now, there’s a new spark between them, so Millie is concerned when Uriah doesn’t show up at the Harvest concert series—or for his job as the Village square’s groundskeeper. Perhaps Millie has been involved in too many murder investigations, but she has a sinking feeling. And when she and her best friend, Lois, find Uriah with the police, it seems she’s right…
A film crew is in Harvest to make a movie about a forty-year-old unsolved murder. A skeleton has been found at the bottom of a ravine—and Uriah is certain it’s his sister, Galilee. Right before Uriah left Ohio, she disappeared, and her harsh husband, Samuel, was found fatally stabbed with a knitting needle. The sheriff declared that Galilee killed him and ran away. Uriah never believed the theory, and he’s come back to Harvest hoping, Gott willing, Millie will help him stitch together the truth…
Happy reading! ❤