Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

Blood of the Prodigal
An Amish Country Mystery

By P. L. Gaus

A Mystery Guild Book Club selection

"Gaus brings a refreshing authenticity to his unusual setting and characters. There are no wisecracking gumshoes here, but instead believable characters whose faith is explored with respect. Anyone who enjoyed the film Witness should take to this fine mystery debut.“

Publishers Weekly

“A pleasure to read.”

Library Journal

“Gaus writes with authority and warmth about the mysterious Amish…. This well-written, insightful first novel bodes well for Gaus' planned Professor Branden series.”


“The charm of Gaus's first novel lies in its gently penetrating portrait of conflicts within the deceptively quiet contemporary Amish community.”

Kirkus Reviews

P. L. Gaus’s Blood of the Prodigal, a mystery in the tradition of Tony Hillerman, is back in a new edition, including an exclusive interview with the author, discussion questions for reading groups, and a detailed map and driving guide to Holmes County, Ohio, with everything one needs to visit the iconic scenes depicted in the story.

In Holmes County, Ohio—home to the largest Amish and Mennonite settlements in the world—mystery and foreboding lurk in the quiet Old Order Amish community led by Bishop Eli Miller.The illusion of peace is shattered one early morning when a young Amish boy goes missing—abducted from his home and from Bishop Miller’s care. At first, the bishop suspects the child’s father, who was exiled from the Old Order ten years ago, but a murder soon casts doubt on the bishop’s theory. With a strong distrust of law enforcement and the modern “English” ways, the bishop must put his faith in an unlikely partnership with Professor Michael Branden before it’s too late.

With the help of the peaceful pastor Cal Troyer and the reckless Sheriff Bruce Robertson, Branden plunges headlong into the closed culture to unravel the mystery of the missing child and uncover truths many would prefer to leave undisturbed.

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

More info →




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Retail price: $16.95, T.
Release date: February 2020
270 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights:  World

Retail price: $26.95, T.
Release date: June 1999
235 pages
Rights:  World

Release date: February 2020
270 pages
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for Blood of the Prodigal

“No one who enjoys a fresh approach to the mystery novel, plus an insider's look at Ohio's Old Order Amish culture, should miss Blood of the Prodigal. P. L. Gaus gives us a kind, gentle, and intriguing look at crime inside Ohio's famous Amish colony.”

Tony Hillerman

“Gaus has done successfully what would seem nearly impossible: to meld a mystery novel with a description of Amish life in Holmes county without scanting either one…. (A)n impressive debut novel.”

Ohioana Quarterly

“P. L. Gaus’s voice in his first mystery is so assured and polished, it’s hard to believe this is his first book…. (T)he strength of the descriptions of the Amish … is such that as a reader you almost resent being away from it for a moment.”

Aunt Agatha's Newsletter

“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.”


“In addition to the very interesting portrayal of Amish culture, I most enjoyed the characters and relationships at the heart of the book…. The small-town flavor revealed through the interplay among this cast of characters is both believable and endearing.”

Deadly Pleasures: A Mystery Magazine

“The characters are full-bodied and finely wrought…. The plot is solid and well paced. And Gaus informs us about the life and practice of the Old Order Amish without instructing or lecturing.”

The Mystery Review

“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

“(Broken English)…was nearly impossible to put down.”

The Daily Record (Wooster, OH)

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