By P. L. Gaus
“The charm of Gaus's first novel lies in its gently penetrating portrait of conflicts within the deceptively quiet contemporary Amish community.”
“The Amish setting is as strange and intriguing as that of any foreign country, and the strong-willed characters challenge the reader’s prejudices and values. This novel, the first in a series, opens the door for further exploration of the nature of these characters and their culture.”
Wendy Foster Leigh, The King's English, Salt Lake City
“This story is written in the tradition of Tony Hillerman: Gaus presents a deeper understanding of an American subculture and why—though it interacts with mainstream American society—it stubbornly chooses to remain separate and follow its own unique doctrines. Enthusiasts of mysteries, American sub-cultures, or those interested in learning more about Amish ways will find much to glean from Gaus’ work.”
“Gaus writes with authority and warmth about the mysterious Amish. This well-written, insightful first novel bodes well for Gaus' planned Professor Branden series.”
From the choppy waves of Lake Erie's Middle Bass Island to the too-tranquil farmlands of Holmes County's Amish countryside, mystery and foreboding lurk under layers of tradition and repression before boiling up to the surface with tragic consequences.
For Jon Mills, the journey begins with his decision to retrieve his ten-year-old son from the hands of the Bishop who had ten years earlier cast Mills out of the Order, the same Bishop who is Jon Mills's father.
When Mills turns up dead, dressed in Amish garb, and with the boy missing, Professor Michael Branden plunges headlong into the closed culture to unravel the mystery and find the boy. Working in tandem sometimes and at cross purposes at others with his old friend Sheriff Robertson, Professor Branden digs through the past, recent and otherwise, to uncover the truths that many would prefer to leave undisturbed.
In the tradition of Tony Hillerman, P. L. Gaus depicts a culture that stands outside the norm, but one that is every bit as susceptible to the undertow of the human spirit as any we might know.
P. L. Gaus is the author of seven books in the Amish-Country Mystery series. He lives in Wooster, Ohio, an area that is close to the world’s largest settlement of Amish and Mennonite people. Gaus lectures widely about the lifestyles, culture, and religion of the Amish..
Visit his website at P. L. Gaus
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What is the relationship between history and fiction in a place with a contentious past? And of what concern is gender in the telling of stories about that past? After the first blizzard of an early winter, a Mennonite college girl with a troubled past appears curled up and bloodied outside the offce of her childhood psychiatrist. Mute for many years as a child, Martha Lehman is again not talking.
As another college year draws to an end, Professor Michael Branden is weary after nearly thirty years of teaching. Sitting in his office on a warm spring day, he receives an unexpected visit from an Amish man who claims his brother, a dwarf like himself, has been murdered. Their discussion of the odd details of the case is interrupted by a commotion on campus, which turns out to be the apparent suicide of a young woman, who, it seems, has leapt to her death from the college bell tower.