A murder and a kidnapping put tremendous pressure on a formerly Amish police officer.
Mary Yoder and two of her grandchildren are picking walnuts at a deserted homestead when Mary is brutally murdered by someone who also abducts her 7-year-old granddaughter, Elsie Helmuth. Painters Mill police chief Kate Burkholder is on patrol when a panicked Amish girl, who looks about 5, comes running toward her, "vibrating all over...mewling sounds tearing from a throat that's gone hoarse," screaming that Da Deivel has hurt her Grossmammi. Mary lived with her daughter and son-in-law Miriam and Ivan Helmuth, and the missing child is one of their eight. A massive search is instituted after the traumatized Annie Helmuth describes the killer as a very large Amish man with brown hair. Kate checks out the few obvious suspects in the generally nonviolent community, including several sex offenders, but finds no reason for the crime until one of the Helmuth children mentions that "Mamm says Elsie was a gift," and "Bishop Troyer brought her," helping Kate put together several telltale facts. Elsie was the only Helmuth child not delivered by midwife Martha Hershberger. She’s a brown-haired, brown-eyed child whose siblings are all green-eyed strawberry blonds. And two of the Helmuth girls are 7 years old. After tracking down birth certificates, Kate realizes Elsie isn’t the Helmuths’ biological child, and a distraught Miriam breaks down and admits the child was indeed brought to them by Bishop Troyer and a midwife and bishop from Scioto County. Kate, who grew up Amish before leaving the community, is aghast that Troyer would have anything to do with an illegal child placement. Following up the lead, Kate learns that the Scioto bishop was killed in a supposed hit-and-run. The midwife is murdered after Kate’s first visit. Kate herself is lucky to escape when she’s attacked by the killer. Bible verses left at the scenes that suggest someone seeking revenge leave Kate with still more trails to follow. Once again, the queen of Amish mysteries (A Gathering of Secrets, 2018, etc.) uses past events to drive her story.
Block out time to read this page-turner at a single sitting.