In the Land of Milk and Honey (Elizabeth Harris)
by Jane Jensen
Cover Artist: Amish buggy by Willard / iStock / Thinkstock;
Landscape by Mischa Keijser / Plainpicture.
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425282908
Date: 02 August 2016 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Elizabeth Harris currently works for the Lancaster Police Violent Crimes Department. Normally the police work in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County, with its large Amish community, was fairly routine compared to her time working for the NYPD. She had needed a change after her husband was killed when he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and Pennsylvania seemed like a good fit for her.
The previous year, Harris worked a kidnapping case (see Kingdom Come) which had helped gain her some respect from the Amish community. When an Amish friend asked her to check into the death of a young boy and the illness that had sickened the entire family, she agreed, even though she didn't believe that a curse had been put on the family by a magic worker. However, when an entire family was killed shortly after from a similar illness, she threw herself into the case because her instinct said this wasn't a flu or other illness -- this was murder.
As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the Amish are being targeted. In following the clues, readers learn more about Amish customs and culture as well as the politics involved in the sales of raw milk. There also information on the plight of small farms and their ability to sell their produce. Much of this information feeds into the problems that Harris runs into when trying to keep people from dying and to find the killer.
The writing pulls you in from the Prologue to the last page. The characters are believable and sharply drawn. There's a bit of romance and flirtation as well as police procedure and the difficulty of dealing with a culture and community that sees the police as outsiders.
The point of view stays close to Elizabeth Harris, with only a few pages from the killers point of view towards the end, as things are coming to a final conflict. Jensen manages this point of view shift while managing not to let us know who the killer is or any other identifying information except to build the tension of the story.
Not being Amish or knowing anyone in that community, I can only hope that they are accurately portrayed as I feel that I know a bit more about their community and beliefs than I did before reading In the Land of Milk and Honey. I look forward to more stories in this series.