Today I am so excited to welcome Jane Jensen to Escape With Dollycas!
HOME AGAIN: BACK TO LANCASTER COUNTY
By Jane Jensen
My new release, “Kingdom Come”, is a murder mystery set in the Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Detective Elizabeth Harris is the protagonist and, in many ways, her story is my story.
In the book, Elizabeth grew up in Quarryville Pennsylvania, a small town in Lancaster County. As a teen, she wanted desperately to leave her small town life, and she succeeded. She went to college in New York City and stayed there. She became a New York cop, got her Criminal Justice degree, and finally ended up a detective. But that’s all before the novel begins. At the start of “Kingdom Come”, Elizabeth is a new transplant back to Lancaster County. Like me.
I grew up in small town Pennsylvania and moved to California for my first job right out of college. I lived on the West Coast for the next twenty-odd years, both in California and Seattle. In 2010 my husband and I bought a farm in Lancaster County and moved back. My feelings about this place, and the transition home, form the bedrock of “Kingdom Come”.
Can you go home again? And is the simple life of the past really as idyllic as you imagine?
These are some of the themes of the book. Elizabeth is burnt out as a New York cop, sick of the violence, and suffering from PTSD. She also had a horrendous personal loss when her husband was murdered in a random shooting. She dreams that by moving back to Lancaster County, she will find a place without the senseless violence of the city, a place where she can remember the good in the world, in people. She craves peace and quiet. But as a new detective for the Lancaster Bureau of Police, she’s about to encounter one of the most disturbing cases of her career—and learn that there can be snakes in the grass even in paradise.
My own experience of moving back to Lancaster County has been equally fraught with good and bad (though not as dramatically or fatally as Elizabeth’s). This is a place where my childhood memories walk out of my head and into real life. For example, I remember my mother and aunts wearing silky polyester dresses, often in floral patterns, and having short permed hair. This is not something you’d ever see on the West Coast, but here at the local farmer’s markets, you will see older women still in that same mode—and that’s not even the Amish women. The Amish and Mennonites are heavily populated in this area and they harken back even further, to the 1800’s. I carry my smart phone and check my messages next to a lady in a bonnet selling homemade canned peaches. Time seems to have stopped here, and, honestly, I love that. It’s like being a time traveler in a way.
I have always been drawn to old things—old barns, antique furniture, old cobblestone roads. One of my favorite places to travel is the British countryside, where you can still walk through sheep herds on the hills and sit in a stone-walled pub that’s three hundred years old. This part of me adores Lancaster County, where I ride over covered bridges and see men plowing fields with horses on the bike ride loop I take from my own home. Hell, parts of the farmhouse we live in dates from 1732.
But. But. The past has its own problems, doesn’t it? Dark secrets can lurk there, as Elizabeth finds out. For myself, I’ve had to make peace with the fact that most of my neighbors have religious and political beliefs far more conservative than my own, that women’s rights and animal rights are in rather prehistoric states in many places here, and that I can face more dismissal and sexism as a female than I ever did on the West Coast.
There are many little incidents and encounters that we’ve experienced since returning that have ended up in “Kingdom Come”. And the descriptions of the barns, fields, farmhouses, and streams in the story are based on our farm too. Will Elizabeth come to regret her decision to return, or will the good out-weigh the bad in the end?
I’ll give you a hint: We have no plans to move.
I’ve included some photos from our own Lancaster odyssey.
An Elizabeth Harris Mystery
1st in Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (January 5, 2016)
An Imprint of Penguin Ransom House LLC
Mystery/Amish & Mennonite Fiction/Women Sleuths
Setting – Pennsylvania
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book ASIN: B00W2ZKVUK
Amish country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, has always been a place of quiet beauty—until a shocking murder shatters the peace, and leaves a troubled detective picking up the pieces…
After her husband is murdered, Detective Elizabeth Harris turns in her NYPD badge and moves back home, hoping that a quiet life in remote Pennsylvania Dutch country will help her overcome the dark memories of her ten years in New York. But when a beautiful, scantily clad “English” girl is found dead in the barn of a prominent Amish family, Elizabeth knows that she’s uncovered an evil that could shake the community to its core.
Elizabeth’s boss is convinced this was the work of an “English,” as outsiders are called in Lancaster County. But Elizabeth isn’t so sure. All she’s missing is an actual lead—until another body is found: this time, a missing Amish girl. Now Elizabeth must track down a killer with deep ties to a community that always protects its own—no matter how deadly the cost…
Detective Elizabeth Harris comes home from New York after her husband was murdered. She needs a quieter life to start over. But life at home isn’t at all what she expected. A body is found in a barn in the heart of the Amish community. The young girl is “English”, and her body had clearly been moved. Why would she be here were violence is condemned and life is “simple”? As the most experienced officer Elizabeth is assigned to the case, she thinks the killer is nearby while others believe it has to be an English outsider.
This is the type of story that I would expect to see on an episode of Criminal Minds. They definitely needed help coming up with a profile for the killer, but I don’t know if even Shemar Moore’s Derek Morgan could figure this one out.
Elizabeth Harris is a very strong, intelligent woman. She is not afraid to go anywhere or do anything to get justice for this girl and for a girl that had gone missing months ago. The disappearance of the first girl was never reported by her parents because she was Amish and everyone thought she had just run off. Well Elizabeth doesn’t think that is the case. When the police handle the Amish with kid gloves she becomes very frustrated.
The author tells us before the story even begins that nothing like this has even happened in an Amish community but she sure writes a believable story. The characters come alive in the pages as does the town, the woods, the fields, and especially the river. The imagery was absolutely fantastic.
We meet Ezra Beiler, a Amish man who lost her his wife an child at a very young age. He is unhappy living in the Amish community and there is almost an immediate spark between him and Elizabeth. Their budding romance and flirtation plays throughout the story. The romance ebbs and flows and sometimes collides with the intense drama.
This story is very well written but some parts were a bit predictable. I could tell from one of the girl’s behavior an underlying cause quite early, but was totally surprised by the way the story peaked.
I am happy to see the author plans on a series with these characters because I truly want to know them better. I feel their story is just beginning. This story has set the series off to a fine start.
About the Author
Jane Jensen is a novelist and game designer. Best known for her computer game series, Gabriel Knight, and her novel, Dante’s Equation, Jensen has published seventeen games and four thriller novels. She also publishes romance as Eli Easton. She lives with her husband, Robert Holmes, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”