A rural Ohio community is rocked when one Amish confesses to killing another.
The case seems as simple as it is astounding. Young Crist Burkholder tells his Bishop, Leon Shetler, that he’s just killed Glenn Spiegle in a fight over who’ll marry Vesta Miller. But Shetler, who cautions his flock to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” can’t believe gentle Crist capable of murder. Soon Shetler is joined by Coroner Missy Taggert, who finds that Spiegel was killed by a savage beating, not the one blow Crist admits to. Crist’s pro bono lawyer gets his confession bounced on the grounds that it’s virtually impossible to Mirandize the Amish, and Sheriff Bruce Robertson finds his case unraveling even quicker than Darba Winters, a mentally fragile ex-teacher who owns the barn where Spiegel’s body was found. Darba’s husband, Billy, drives a truck that delivers Amish cheese all the way to Florida, where he and Spiegle once lived. But when Vesta’s father, Jacob Miller, is found dead in Sarasota near the Pinecraft resort community where Amish travel to enjoy the beach, Robertson has no choice but to call professor Mike Branden (Separate From the World, 2008, etc.) away from his sabbatical at Duke. When Mike gets to Sarasota, he finds a trail of crime years old that leads him to a murderer who’s more serpent than dove.
A look at the Amish world that’s both piercing and sensitive.