What I’m reading now: Amish mystery edition

Apparently I’ve had a lot of time to read this week. Here’s the list:
Sworn to silence-- Linda Castillo (& Pray for Silence)
They fight like soldiers, they die like children-- Gen. Romeo Dallaire
The man who risked his partner-- Stephen R Donaldson
Chasing the night-- Iris Johansen
Trail of blood-- Lisa Black (also Takedown and Evidence of murder)
Burying Ariel--Gail Bowen
The girl in the green raincoat--Laura Lippman
A prayer for the night-- P.L. Gaus
Shattered--Scott Wallens

I’ve come across two authors in the last couple of weeks who write mysteries set in the Amish community.

Sworn to Silence and Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo (2009, 2010)
Police Chief Kate Burkholder used to be Amish, but now she’s under the bann. However, she’s come back to her home community of Painter Mills to make a life for herself.  Now she’s trying to solve a serial-killer murder while keeping a dark secret from her past in her past (Sworn to Silence).Then, ten months later, the slaying of an entire family brings back memories that threaten her ability to to do her job, and to hold on to her emotional equilibrium (Pray for Silence).
Castillo has written a number of books previously, mostly Harlequins and Berkley Sensation, and her skills in writing show. She shows both the Amish and the English communities in a balanced light, and as far as I can tell, her picture of Amish life is accurate. Excellent writing, great suspense, well-developed characters, and twisty plots have won me over-- I’m waiting for the next one (Breaking Silence), due out in June 2011.

A Prayer for the Night by PL Gaus (2005, reissued 2011)
I was intrigued to find two titles by PL Gaus on the new book shelf at the library. There are seven so far in this series (see www.plgaus.com for more information), with another coming out later this year. Gaus’s series is something of a gentler read than Castillo, but it’s every bit as compelling to read. The main characters are Pastor Caleb Troyer, Professor Michael Branden, and Sheriff Bruce Robertson, childhood friends who still depend on each other to help out. Troyer is a connection into the Amish world, and understands Pennsylvania Dutch, which can be helpful. Robertson is the law connection, and Branden provides a connection or two of his own, as well as a keen understanding of the world and human psychology.
In A Prayer for the Night, two Amish boys go missing, and after their friend Sara asks for Troyer’s help, she disappears, too. All three-- plus another six Amish youth-- are a part of a group going through Rumschpringe, the “wild days” Amish youth are permitted before making a final decision to commit to the church and community. Most Rumschpringe are more mild than wild-- occasional weekends wearing English clothes, going to movies, and visiting the odd bar-- but Sara and her friends are in way over their heads.
Gaus has serious credentials when it comes to the Amish culture, and it shows. The people and community are lovingly depicted, and the plot twists are all credible. I plan on reading the rest of the series.


Well-- I've logged in and I'm going to try some of your rec. books. I'll let you know....