Kate Burkholder (Down a Dark Road, 2017, etc.), police chief of Painters Mill, Ohio, is called to the scene of a fire at the home of Miriam and Gideon Gingerich, a well-regarded Amish couple with four children.
Their barn has burned to the ground, and their eldest son, Danny, is missing. Kate’s lover, John Tomasetti, an agent for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, accompanies her to the scene, which the fire chief pronounces suspicious. The family is hoping that Danny, who is passing through Rumspringa, the time when Amish teens sow some wild oats before settling down, is out with friends, but their hopes are crushed when his body is found in the barn. Not only was the fire deliberately set, but Danny had been locked in the tack room. Everyone says Danny was a hardworking, easygoing young man, but as Kate looks for motives she uncovers some very nasty secrets. The next-door neighbor is a felon with a bad temper. Danny was virtually engaged to marry lovely Luane Raber, yet Kate senses she is holding something back. Luane’s father says Danny had had a fight with his best friend, Milo Hershberger, a horse trainer under the bann for his wild ways, who admits that Danny was not always a nice guy. "You want to know about Danny the Saint?" he says. "I'd suggest you talk to Emma Miller....But I reckon it's a little too late." The Amish are very closemouthed about their lives, and Emma’s parents are unwilling to speculate as to why she might have killed herself six month earlier, though her former boyfriend suggests that Danny may have raped her. Kate knows all too well from her own life what the veil of silence and the blame attached to a woman's sexual behavior can do to a person. Certain that revenge is the motive, she wonders whether Danny may have had more victims than Emma.
Another rewarding crime novel that looks beyond the idealized image of the Amish.