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A Simple Murder

A Mystery
Narrated by: Richard Waterhouse
Series: Will Rees, Book 1
Length: 10 hrs and 11 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

1796: When traveling weaver and former soldier Will Rees learns that his son David has run away he immediately sets out after him. After tracking him down at a Shaker settlement near Durham, Maine, Will unexpectedly finds himself heading a murder investigation.

As he adapts to the ways of the Shakers, he begins to discover that some members of the community may hold clues to solving the case, but uncovering those clues will also reveal dark secrets that could threaten the whole community. Meanwhile, the body count continues to rise.

In this outstanding debut, Eleanor Kuhns has crafted an atmospheric and authentic portrait of a compelling time in history that will leave listeners on the edge of their seats.

©2012 Eleanor Kuhns (P)2012 AudioGO

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A Simple Murder

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

At first the narrator took some getting use to, at times his voice was just bad.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The Character that i like the most was the young son whom had a thing with his father. This relationship between father and soon was an all to often picture of real life.

What aspect of Richard Waterhouse’s performance would you have changed?

No it did not like it at first his voice took some getting use to but after a while i t was ok.

Did A Simple Murder inspire you to do anything?

No it did not.

Any additional comments?

I did like the history of the story as i am a fan of early American History not a bad book after all.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Visit the Shakers

In A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns, itinerant weaver Will Rees comes home in 1795 Dugard, Maine to find that his 14-year-old son, David, has run away from Rees’s farm. David has been under the care of Rees’s sister, Caroline, and her husband, Sam, who have been living on the farm in exchange for caring for David in the eight years since the death of Rees’s wife, Dolly. But now he has run away to join Zion, a Shaker community, and Rees goes there to locate his son. After meeting an angry David, who is determined not to return to his abusive aunt and uncle, Rees finds weaving work in the vicinity and decides to settle in the area for a while. Then the next morning, the local sheriff arrests Rees for murder at the accusation of Elder White. Fortunately, Rees can prove he was with the family who hired him to weave for them when Sister Charity was killed with a bash on the head.

Then, Elder White asks Rees to investigate the crime at the suggestion of David. Because it would be inappropriate for Rees as a man to be alone with one of the Shaker sisters in order to conduct interviews, the leaders arrange for Lydia Ferrell, a former Shaker, to act as chaperone, and she soon becomes Rees’s partner in detection. The investigation takes them into discoveries of further murders.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to A Simple Murder, though it did have its weaknesses. Kuhns has created an interesting community of Shakers and those the Shakers live among. In this community, we see the rigid social structure of the religious sect, especially their emphasis on celibacy and limited interaction between the sexes. We also see the prejudices against the Shakers by those outside that community, often based just upon their style of clothing. I gather from what others have said in their reviews that many of the depictions of the Shaker community are not very accurate and that the book would be stronger with more research into the book’s setting. Even an author of fiction, especially historical fiction, needs to do plenty of research to keep the details based upon fact accurate, so I’m hoping that Kuhns learned from the reviews of this book and studied up on the Shaker community more thoroughly for her later books.

The mystery in this book is interesting, giving a satisfying denouement, but most of the characters are somewhat flat. I did find that the various characters got confusing to me at times, and frequently I had trouble matching names with individual characters because they didn’t have strong distinctions between them. The romantic relationship between Rees and Lydia develops gradually over the course of the book, making them more believable than other characters. In addition, I found the character of David to be rounder than most, a realistic teenage boy who struggles with resentment of his father and wants the attention of Rees.

Richard Waterhouse performs the audio edition of this book. With a voice that seems well- suited for narrating this book, he adds strength to this novel. Some of the reviews of the print or Kindle version of the book indicate confusion in identifying which character is speaking, but Waterhouse uses distinct voices for each character that clear up any such confusion. His performance adds to the enjoyment of this book.

A Simple Murder contained some notable weaknesses, but it kept me drawn to the book, wanting to listen to learn what would happen next. Though I would have liked to hear more about the Shaker culture, the depictions of the community were vivid and well- drawn. I have already purchased the next book in the series and look forward to hearing what will happen with the characters next. I give this book four stars.