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A John Lapp/Sallie Stoltzfus Mystery

by Ron Yeakley

Pub Date: April 26th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-595-40427-8

A brutal murder brings an Amish community into conflict with the modern world.

When Jacob Stoltzfus, an Amish man, is found shot to death at an abandoned rural Pennsylvania gas station, the detective investigating the murder knows to call state trooper John Lapp. Raised Amish, Lapp found the opportunities of the “English” world too tempting, but he still speaks Pennsylvania Dutch. More importantly, as a former insider he can skirt the rules the Amish use to keep the world at arm’s length, such as “don’t speak to outsiders, especially the police.” At first, the Amish chalk the murder up to God’s will and don’t seem too keen on finding out who committed the crime. But when the evidence points to Stoltzfus’s slow brother Amos, they reluctantly turn to Lapp to clear his name. Even so, the community is not exactly forthcoming with the information Lapp needs to solve the case. Further complicating Lapp’s job is the fact that the murdered man happens to be married to Lapp’s childhood sweetheart Sallie, for whom he still has feelings. Sallie seems as unaware as the rest of the community as to the extent of Stoltzfus’s forays into the modern world, and no one can fathom his decision to commit the unthinkable crime of selling land to outsiders. Between the walls thrown up by the tight-lipped Amish community and the pile of evidence the state police have on Amos, Lapp has his work cut out for him. Yeakley portrays the Amish with respect and understanding, just as he portrays Lapp, a believable Everyman whose modest ambition was more than the Amish community could handle, and whose basic decency fuels his need to uncover the truth. The author’s skillful sense of setting and character drive this taut thriller to a satisfying conclusion.

A tense, accomplished mystery.