on 30 January 1999
In the Shaker village of North Homage, Kentucky seven-year-old Betsy and eight-year-old Nora becomes deathly ill from eating and/or drinking "pretend tea" and "magical flowers". When the two unconscious youngsters are found, the entire Shaker community becomes shaken by their tortorous struggle to survive. Eldress Rose Callahan believes the two little girls ate poisonous herbs found in the community's Medicinal Herb Shop that is experimenting on various formulas.
Rose begins her investigation by interviewing the sisters and brethren who work at the shop. Brother Andrew Clark heads the activity and shows proper deference to his equal. However, the other shop employees act as if they still feel the taint of the outsiders. Rose turns to a former protégé now living on the outside, who knows herbs, to help her discover the truth. However, even in the peaceful world of the nonviolent Believers, lives an individual who will kill anyone, including Rose, who
gets too close to their secret.
The Sister Rose Callahan series is always a delight as the novels provide readers with a wonderful mystery and fabulous insight into the bygone world of the Shakers. The current tale, SINS OF A SHAKER brings both elements together in a taut story line. The who-done-it is entertaining, but it is the beliefs and customs of the Shakers inside a fabulous mystery tale that makes Deborah Woodworth's novel worth reading.