The New York Times
Separate from the World (Amish-Country Mystery Series #6)by P. L. Gaus
As another college year draws to an end, Professor Michael Branden is weary after nearly thirty years of teaching. Sitting in his office on a warm spring day, he receives an unexpected visit from an Amish man who claims his brother, a dwarf like himself, has been murdered. Their discussion of the odd details of the case is interrupted by a commotion on campus,
As another college year draws to an end, Professor Michael Branden is weary after nearly thirty years of teaching. Sitting in his office on a warm spring day, he receives an unexpected visit from an Amish man who claims his brother, a dwarf like himself, has been murdered. Their discussion of the odd details of the case is interrupted by a commotion on campus, which turns out to be the apparent suicide of a young woman, who, it seems, has leapt to her death from the college bell tower.
The investigations of these two deaths become intertwined as Professor Branden again teams up with his colleagues Pastor Cal Troyer and Sheriff Bruce Robertson to seek explanations for these bizarre events.
Separate from the World is a story of a rift between two Amish factions, one that favors the use of medicine and that participates in a college study of genetic traits particular to the Amish community, and the other that rejects any outside influence.
Once more, P. L. Gaus takes us inside a separate culture and, in a manner both gentle and grim, highlights the complex relationship of the Amish and the “English” as they live inside or outside each other’s orbits.
The New York Times
In Gaus's excellent sixth Ohio Amish mystery (after 2006's A Prayer for the Night), Enos Erb, an Amish farmer, makes an unusual request of Michael Branden, burned-out history professor and amateur sleuth, given that the Amish practice nonviolence and have no use for the justice system of the outside "English" world. Erb wants the professor's help finding his brother's murderer. People's unwillingness to confront evil hampers Branden's investigation, which gets interrupted by the apparent suicide of a coed, campus unrest and the kidnapping of an Amish child. Between helping Pastor Cal Troyer cope with a personal crisis and keeping Sheriff Bruce Robertson from blundering impulsively, Brandon realizes that a clever, murderous sociopath is exploiting the preconceptions of Amish and English. While Gaus may not be an elegant stylist, a convincing plot and credible, sympathetic characters make another winner in this fine regional series. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Gaus is a sensitive storyteller who matches his cadences to the measured pace of Amish life, catching the tensions among the village’s religious factions.”
The New York Times
“[Gaus’s] writing is crisp and fast-paced, his depiction of the Amish sympathetic yet realistic
. [An] enjoyable, interesting novel. Only one caveat: It’s too short!”
“Two unexplained deaths bring home to history professor Michael Branden (A Prayer for the Night, 2006, etc.) the powers and limitations of modern science.
A perceptive look at problems that have no easy solutions.”
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“The pro-medicine/anti-medicine debate that splits the Amish community literally pits brother against brother and the clash of cultures, and of ideals within a culture, adds complex depth to Gaus’ story.”
Mystery Scene Magazine
“In Gaus’s excellent sixth Ohio Amish mystery
a convincing plot and credible, sympathetic characters make another winner in this fine regional series.”
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
Meet the Author
P. L. Gaus is the author of the Ohio Amish Mysteries including, most recently, A Prayer for the Night, Clouds without Rain, and Cast a Blue Shadow. He teaches chemistry and alternative cultures at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.
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If you switched Agatha Christie over a century and placed her in the middle of Amish country you would have "Separate from the World", it is that type of a cozy. Here you have Professor Michael Branden, teacher at a small town college and a native of the area, who has been best friends with the local sheriff, Bruce Robertson, since grade school. Along with another grade school buddy, Caleb Troyer, the local pastor, the trio becomes this group of investigators in a series of books that Gaus gives us, solving mysteries that involve the complexity of the Amish. In "Separate from the World", we meet the Erb family, and it's descendants, that through apparent cross breeding with the families, has developed an unusual number of dwarf's in the gene pool. The study of the genetics, blood studies and inbreeding becomes a study subject for a number of the students at neighboring at Millersburg College, and surprisingly the Erb family provides them with family history until the split in the Amish way of life is discovered and the elder forbids any further discussion with the students. At the same time an apparent suicide of a female student opens an investigation into improprieties from another professor which opens the lead for Gaus to link her death with the controversial genetics study into the Erb family. He leads us a circuitous route, unraveling clues until the very last moment, leading to a very satisfying ending.
Tgis mystery, sixth in the Amish Country series, is much better thsn the first, being that the reader is actually able to solve the mystery. There is also a bit of Amish history and culture included, but strictly as background to the main murder mystery. Recommended as a quick read (200 pages).