In the Land of Milk and Honey by Jane Jensen

August 25, 2016 2016, B+, book rating, Cloak & Dagger Mystery Reading Challenge, Goodreads, Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, New Release Challenge, Reading Challenges, reviews 2

in-the-land-of-milk-and-honeyIn the Land of Milk and Honey by Jane Jensen
Series: Elizabeth Harris Mystery #2
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural
Setting: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Published by Berkley
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: August 2)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
304 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: With its peaceful, hardworking Amish population, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is a rural paradise. But former NYPD homicide detective Elizabeth Harris knows that evil lurks there—it’s just easier to hide…

By solving the murders of two local girls, Elizabeth has gained some trust in the Amish community. So, she’s the first person its members turn to when a fast and fatal illness takes hold, though many believe that the sickness stems from a hexerei—a curse placed by a practitioner of old-world folk magic. Elizabeth doesn’t believe in curses, and when an entire Amish family is found dead, she begins to suspect something far more sinister…

As the CDC is called in to investigate, customers of a Philadelphia farmers market selling Amish raw milk start dying. Amid rapidly escalating panic, Elizabeth must peel away layers of superstition and fear to save the livelihood—and lives—of an entire community. Because what has happened isn’t an accident of nature or an act of God, it’s the handiwork of someone who has only just begun to kill…

Initial impressions

  • I’m so glad the publisher gave me a chance to read this book! A very good mystery.

Pluses

  • I really like the characters in this book–especially Detective Elizabeth Harris. Grady, Elizabeth’s boss, is also a well-rounded character. I like that he listens to Elizabeth even when he doesn’t agree with her.
  • The setting in rural Pennsylvania in a county where a large number of Amish live makes for an interesting and different setting.
  • Even though this is the second book in the series I didn’t have any trouble getting into the story. It did make me want to read the first book which I did almost as soon as I finished this book!
  • I felt the horror the police feel when they find an entire family dead. And the need to call in the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
  • I like that this story is about solving the mystery. The author does a great job of fleshing out the story and showing people’s lives, but the focus is on the mystery and the police trying to solve it.
  • Elizabeth is living with Ezra, a former Amish man so there is a little romance in the story. As well as temptation. . .
  • Ezra is feeling very alone in this story. He feels he made the right decision to leave the Amish, but he misses his large family. They will have nothing to do with him even when he tries to warn them about the sickness in the Amish community. Ezra appreciates Elizabeth’s work with the police, but she is so busy with this case she doesn’t have a lot of time to listen to him.
  • The Amish characters in the book are portrayed as real people. (Or so it seems to me.) Their relationship with the land and their animals seems very real. I could understand the pain and anger they feel when the safety of their cow’s milk is questioned.
  • I like that the mystery has a number of layers. Many possibilities:
  • –Is this a contagious disease? Hence the need for the CDC.
  • –Is this just a problem with the Amish? If so, why just the Amish? Is there a poisonous plant growing in their pastures the cows eat? Is it because the Amish sell raw milk? Does the raw milk make the milk dangerous?
  • –Is the sickness caused by a curse? Or someone wanting to make it look like a curse?
  • –Lots of political ramifications with raw milk. Some people feel it’s healthier. Others feel milk isn’t safe if it’s not pasteurized.
  • I like that the Amish aren’t portrayed as an ideal group of people. Many are doing the best they can; many have blind spots. They tend to have a an us vs. them mentality so they close ranks against outsiders–the English. Most are just people trying to live their lives as best they can.
  • That doesn’t mean the Amish won’t turn their back on their fellow Amish if they judge that they aren’t following their rules. Shunning is a harsh judgement.
  • I love the covers they’ve used for the first two books. I hope the publisher continues with this type of cover.

Minuses

  • There is almost a love triangle in the book.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • The author does a great job with the mystery, characters and setting. Even before I finished this book I looked for the first book in the series! I hope Ms. Jensen writes many more books in this series.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Jane Jensen is the game designer of the popular and critically acclaimed Gabriel Knight adventure games and author of the novels Judgement Day and Dante’s Equation.
  • Jane Jensen was born Jane Elizabeth Smith, the youngest of seven children. She received a BA in Computer Science from Anderson University in Indiana and worked as a systems programmer for Hewlett-Packard. Her love of both computers and creative writing eventually led her to the computer gaming industry.
  • Jane Jensen owns a farm in Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband, composer Robert Holmes, who composed the music for the Gabriel Knight series and for Gray Matter.

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