A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns


9 Critic Reviews

...poignantly captures the Shaker ethos of the period.
-Publishers Weekly


Five years ago, while William Rees was still recovering from his stint as a Revolutionary War soldier, his beloved wife died. Devastated, Will Rees left his son, David, in his sister's care, fled his Maine farm, and struck out for a tough but emotionally empty life as a traveling weaver. Now, upon returning unexpectedly to his farm, Rees discovers that David has been treated like a serf for years and finally ran away to join a secluded religious sect—the Shakers.

Overwhelmed by guilt and hoping to reconcile with his son, Rees immediately follows David to the Shaker community. But when a young Shaker woman is brutally murdered shortly after Rees's arrival, Rees finds himself launched into a complicated investigation where the bodies keep multiplying, a tangled web of family connections casts suspicion on everyone, and the beautiful woman on the edge of the Shaker community might be hiding troubling ties to the victims. It quickly becomes clear that in solving Sister Chastity's murder, Rees may well expose some of the Shaker community's darkest secrets, not to mention endanger his own life.

An atmospheric portrait of a compelling time in American history, A Simple Murder is an outstanding debut from Eleanor Kuhns, Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America's 2011 First Crime Novel Competition Winner.


About Eleanor Kuhns

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ELEANOR KUHNS is the 2011 winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel competition. She lives in New York, received her master's in Library Science from Columbia University, and is currently the Assistant Director at the Goshen Public Library in Orange County, New York. This is her first novel.
Published May 8, 2012 by Minotaur Books. 333 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for A Simple Murder
All: 9 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 1


May 01 2012

Kuhns’ focus on a closed community allows her to keep her story from drowning in period detail while emphasizing both the limitations and the charms of the Shakers’ vanished world.

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Publishers Weekly

Mar 12 2012

...poignantly captures the Shaker ethos of the period.

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Nights and Weekends

Reviewed by Margaret Marr

With a puzzling crime, a host of suspects, and a bit of hair-raising action, A Simple Murder will take you into a place where criminal action shouldn’t exist but all too often does.

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The Seattle Times

Reviewed by Oline Cogdill on May 26 2012

Kuhns' affinity for showing the complicated relationships that drive people shines in this strong debut.

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Reviewed by Robin Agnew on Jun 01 2012

This is an enjoyable and thoughtful read, and I’d certainly be more than willing to follow Rees on his next investigation.

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BrodartVibe's Blog

Reviewed by Ginny on Apr 02 2012

After reading this novel, I’d say she has what it takes to spin a great mystery yarn... I look forward to more novels from her.

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Words to Read By

Below average
Reviewed by Sarah Beth on May 08 2012

...I didn't find the actual murder story/investigation very thrilling or enticing.

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Marilyn's Mystery Reads

Reviewed by Marilyn on Jul 14 2012

Eleanor Kuhns’ debut novel is a fascinating read, both because of the time period in which she has set the book and the interesting characters she has created.

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Pop Goes Fiction

Reviewed by Lora Bruggeman on May 18 2012

In A Simple Murder, Kuhns brings the post-Revolutionary War period to life in this novel filled with interesting characters and a mystery that you want to follow to the end.

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Leila McKinnon

Leila McKinnon 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list