Blood of the Prodigal: An Amish-Country Mystery
I haven’t read a lot of mysteries, but I was attracted to the Amish reference in the title and I was pleased with this light and entertaining story. I think Gaus presents a realistic picture of the Amish as they exist surrounded by a modern world. I agree with other reviewers who say that he is respectful of their way of life and of the struggles they meet when they must interact with the outside world.
I have some trouble understanding how college professor and Civil War expert Michael Branden has a second career as a detective and I think this takes away from the story. Gaus’ other characters, specifically Branden’s sidekick wife Caroline, Sheriff Bruce Robertson and his Deputy Ricky Niell, are a little cliché, but this is a plot-driven story, not a study of complicated characters. They are there to give the story flow.
The story gets a little slow in the middle and there is a fair amount of repetition, to keep the reader up to speed with the plot. I think this, too, takes away from the story, which is not very complicated.
I did enjoy reading about the Amish, particularly the Rumschpringe and I think Gaus’ best characters are Bishop Miller and Jonah. Gaus’ descriptions of Holmes County, Ohio are interesting, and the later scenes near Lakeside Marblehead are the strongest part of the story.
I think the plot ending is a little random, but the loose ends are tied up pretty nicely, if not predictably. Without giving away the plot, I still can’t understand the reference to the police insignias on the sleeve of a driver early in the story. I also wonder why Branden feels the need to put on full Amish garb during his investigation.
All in all, a light, entertaining read. Nothing deep here.
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