When Amish teens lose control, even Professor Michael Branden (Cast a Blue Shadow, 2003, etc.) fears he can’t save them.
Rumschpringe—when Amish youth experience first-hand the temptations of the English world—has long been a mainstay of the community, ensuring that those who commit to Amish life do so willingly and knowingly. But Bishop Irvin Raber wonders whether the tradition has become too dangerous, especially now that young John Schlabaugh’s body has been found in an abandoned barn out past Saltillo, near Spits Wallace’s ramshackle place, and Sara Yoder, who ran with Schlabaugh’s gang, has disappeared. Sheriff Bruce Robertson lets deputy Ricky Niell, Branden, and preacher Cal Troyer, all trusted friends of the Amish, take the lead. But Tony Arnetto of the DEA has other ideas. His agency has been looking for Samuel White’s Ecstasy lab to nail down his case against traffickers who may have been using the Amish kids as part of their distribution network, and he won’t let a premature raid ruin a case that took months to build—even if the price is Sara’s life.
Sober and authentic, Gaus’s well-paced fifth takes a hard look at the risks the community must take and the compromises it makes to preserve itself in an ever-more-complex world.