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Blood of the Prodigal by P. L. Gaus
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This is the first of the Ohio Amish Country mysteries.  I read one of the later ones in the series first and I didn't feel I needed back-fill. However, this one, gives an excellent explanation of the Amish philosophy, religion and way of life, and serves as a great introduction to the series. I can't say I agree with everything that was done in the name of religion, but the story, of a young man shunned, a younger boy kidnapped, and a dead body (was it a murder?) to be investigated by "English" vice Amish certainly made for a page turning read. I'd definitely recommend the series to anyone who likes a good mystery with well-developed characters, a sense of place, and a knotty mystery. I honestly didn't know the outcome until about 5 paragraphs from the end! ( )
  tututhefirst | Jun 2, 2013 |
Rating: 3.8* of five

The Publisher Says: Plume's paper edition copy: A compulsively readable new series that explores a fascinating culture set purposely apart.

In the wooded Amish hill country, a professor at a small college, a local pastor, and the county sheriff are the only ones among the mainstream, or "English," who possess the instincts and skills to work the cases that impact all county residents, no matter their code of conduct or religious creed.

When an Amish boy is kidnapped, a bishop, fearful for the safety of his followers, plunges three outsiders into the traditionally closed society of the "Plain Ones."

Ohio University Press's hardcover copy: From the choppy waves off 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 bad 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.

My Review: I don't imagine that I need to go over my hostility, nay hatred, for christian religion and its evils yet again. But given that I am without sympathy for the central organizing principle of the book's characters, why on EARTH would I pick it up?

Because it is never a good idea to shut one's self off from points of view not one's own. Illumination comes only when the curtains are open.

I started reading the book with modest expectations, and the writing delivered on those admirably. Not one paragraph stands out in my mind. No phrases clink against the myriad of quotes stored in my magpie's-paradise of a memory. Not one single crappy turn of phrase, a few slightly ungainly sentences, but overall a solid B+ effort of writing. It's the first in the series, so that's okay by me.

The murder and its motivations made me smile. Seeing a grand high muckity-muck of a christian sect that's looney even by their looney standards get it in the eye? Bliss! Seeing their bizarre separatist way of life illuminated so clearly? Fascination. The sleuthing team's interconnectedness and small-town life-long knowledge of each other, and watching that develop and alter, was a pleasure.

Gaus very clearly understands the world he's writing about, and clearly also makes a strong effort to be fair and informative to and about it. He doesn't go all preachy-teachy and he doesn't gloss over the good or the bad effects of the Plain People's (hubristic) separation from the world of the English and its attendant vanities. (Isn't a focus on eliminating vanity simply vanity in sneakers?)

I liked the book. I'll read the next few, though I doubt there's enough there there to keep me reading for all eight that exist to date. Of course I could be wrong, heaven knows it wouldn't be the first time.

But my wrongness aside, don't turn away from the pleasure of acquainting yourself with this interesting, weird world. ( )
1 vote richardderus | May 19, 2013 |
Blood of the Prodigal (An Ohio Amish Mystery)
P.L. Gaus
This is the beginning of the Amish Mysteries set in Ohio. It is about the grandson of one of the leaders in the Amish community and his kidnapping. The pastor, professor and the sheriff are the only three Englishers that the Amish have any kind of relationship with. The professor, who ends up with a bulk of the investigation is trying to find the location of the grandson. From murder to locating the grandson the suspense and the who, what, when and why are constant. The ending has a good twist and most plausible. There are always details kept from the reader that the professor or others know about. This does make for more wild guessing although is a little off putting because a reader likes to feel like part of the team. I also found it difficult to lay aside old story lines when so many of the characters reappear. I kept having to sort apart a later book from this one. ( )
  Robin661 | Jun 29, 2012 |
This is a fascinating glance at Ohio's Amish country with far less romanticism of the culture than one finds in most books that are sometimes labeled Amish fiction. Bishop Miller's grandson has gone missing, but the Bishop knows his son has taken them. He reluctantly enlists the aid of an "English" pastor (Troyer) and a professor (Branden) who has a reputation for solving crimes during his summer breaks. While Branden's wife wants him to call on the sheriff to assist, Branden honors his promise to the Bishop for discretion. It isn't long until the sheriff is involved in cases related to the original matter. I enjoyed this first installment, but I felt that some of the characters were not as developed as they needed to be. We know that Branden has been involved in helping the police solve crimes in the past from conversations in the book, but we are never enlightened as to what these are. Most mystery series start with the first involvement of the amateur sleuth instead of leaving it to the reader's imagination to fill the void. I have Amish ancestry with lines who lived in Holmes and Wayne County in the first half of the 19th century (before moving westward). I was quite familiar with area being portrayed, and like some of the characters in the book, I lament the commercialization that continues to take place in the area. I did enjoy the mystery, and I found the local sheriff, the two deputies with whom we became most acquainted, and the professor and his wife quite likeable. I hope to be able to continue with this series. ( )
1 vote thornton37814 | May 25, 2012 |
All I can say is I need to do some research into the terminology of the amish! I had never heard of bundling before but now that I have I still didn't get a big enough grasp on the term. and few other german words that I am sure I kinda understood the meaning in the english sentence but would like to look up those words too. great book ( )
  redheadish | Mar 19, 2012 |
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Like all Amish children of ten, Jeremiah Miller had known his share of sunrises.
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Amish bishop Eli Miller breaks the traditional isolation of his people to ask Professor Michael Brandon, who is not Amish, to find his grandson, Jeremiah, who has disappeared with his father, Jonah, although Brandon is not to notify the police or use force to recover the boy.… (more)

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