Mary Alford is a USA Today bestselling author who loves giving her readers the unexpected, combining unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots that result in stories the reader can’t put down. Her titles have been finalists for several awards, including the Daphne Du Maurier, the Beverly, the Maggie, and the Selah. She and her husband live in the heart of Texas in the middle of 70 acres with two cats and one dog.
In this interview, Mary discusses her latest novel, Among the Innocent.
FF: Can you please provide a brief summary of your new novel, Among the Innocent?
At the heart of the story, Among the Innocent is about overcoming the tragedies in our lives and not letting them define who we are. For years, former Amish Leah Miller’s life was overshadowed by the tragic murder of her family.
Leah never thought the young Amish man believed to be responsible for the murder was capable of such a horrendous act. In her mind, the real killer is still out there. She’s spent ten years living in limbo waiting for him to resurface. And now he’s back with a vengeance.
With the help of the new chief of police, Dalton Cooper, another wounded soul who has been touched by the same tragedy, Leah races against the clock to find out the killer’s identity and bring him justice. And in the end, she and Dalton find a happy ending that neither thought possible.
FF: Among the Innocent along with several of your previous titles have been centered around the Amish community. Why did you choose to focus on this group?
As a reader, I am a huge fan of the Amish genre. I love reading about the uncluttered lifestyles of the Amish. Very little of the distractions we face in our modern-day world are part of the Amish ways. Imagine going back in time to when life and the world were much smaller.
The romantic suspense author in me loves the idea of creating a gripping life and death struggle and setting it amongst the innocence of the Amish ways. It reminds me of our struggle as Christians. We are in the world and must deal with the darkness we find here, yet we are not part of this world.
FF: Can you please describe your female protagonist, Leah Miller?
I so loved writing Leah’s story because it is an amazing journey from the frightened young teenager she’d been when she lost her family, to the strong and courageous police officer who stands down a killer to save those she loves. Despite what Leah’s been through, she hasn’t lost her ability to love, though she sometimes guards her heart and doesn’t allow too many people to see the pain behind the confident exterior she presents to the world.
Leah finds herself in a battle against the killer from her past who plans to make her his final victim. And Leah is just as determined to learn the true identity of the person who claimed to love her and yet took so much away.
FF: What is Leah’s connection to the Amish community?
Leah was once Amish herself until her family was killed by a man Leah believed she’d brought into their lives. “John” was an Englischer who claimed to love Leah and wanted her to run away with him. When she wouldn’t, he killed her family as punishment. After her parents’ deaths, Leah was adopted by the former chief of police and his wife. Though memories from that night long ago are always present whenever she returns to her former community, Leah has a special place in her heart for the Amish way of life.
FF: Among the Innocent is set in St. Ignatius, Montana. Why did you choose this location?
I chose St. Ignatius for many reasons. It is a place rich in different cultures. The town of St. Ignatius, along with the Amish community, sits on the Flathead Indian Reservation, so several different cultures mesh together there. I loved the fact that the Amish community is small and remote with sweeping vista views of the rugged Mission Mountains. All of which make for a great suspense setting. The historic St. Ignatius Mission is also featured in the book.
FF: Your novel is packed full of twists, turns, and surprises. Without giving away any spoilers, can you offer a few hints as to what readers may expect in your new novel?
I believe readers will experience a rollercoaster ride filled with danger and suspense. There is a frantic race to find out the killer’s identity before he can claim his next victim, while in the background we see Leah’s adopted mother’s struggle with dementia, and Leah dealing with feelings that she is slowly losing her mom. As Leah comes to terms with her tragic past, she discovers a connection to the new chief that brings her and Dalton closer. And in the end, the identity of the killer will hopefully take readers by surprise.
FF: You have stated that you love to give “readers the unexpected.” What do you mean by this statement?
I love to create stories filled with twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very end, and hopefully have them saying, “I never saw that coming,” or “I had no idea who the bad guy really was.”
FF: What do you love most about writing novels in the romantic suspense genre?
Romantic suspense has something for everyone, in my opinion. There’s romance that will hopefully leave you smiling at the end, and then danger, and action, and suspense along the way that will get your heart rate pounding. All these components come together to make for a truly satisfying read.
Among the Innocent
Genres: Amish, Mystery/Suspense, Romance
Release Date: June 7, 2022
When Leah Miller’s entire Amish family was murdered ten years ago, the person believed responsible took his own life. Since then, Leah left the Amish and joined the police force. Now, after another Amish woman is found murdered with the same MO, it becomes clear that the wrong man may have been blamed for her family’s deaths.
As Leah and the new police chief, Dalton Cooper, work long hours struggling to fit the pieces together in order to catch the killer, they can’t help but grow closer. When secrets from both of their pasts begin to surface, an unexpected connection between them is revealed. But this is only the beginning. Could it be that the former police chief framed an innocent man to keep the biggest secret of all buried? And what will it mean for Leah–and Dalton–when the full truth comes to light?
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