P.L. Gaus

(Murder) Mysteries of Amish life in this postmodern world

The new guy in the town of Millersburg, one David Hawkins, wasn't just a U.S. Army veteran, but a skilled sniper and Special Forces operative.

Then his only daughter was murdered by an ex-con, followed by another murder clearly linked to the case. Obviously, the sheriff had to investigate whether the shattered father was planning his revenge before the ex-con's trial.

That's the set up for "Broken English," one of nine murder mysteries -- so far -- by author P.L. Gaus. But there's a twist, because these stories unfold in Holmes County, Ohio, in Amish country. Hawkins has already vowed to live as a pacifist, while preparing to marry an Amish woman and embrace her faith.

In these books -- "Whiskers of the Lion" arrived this spring -- the fine points of Amish doctrine and culture provide more than colorful frames around the plots, but add crucial details that complicate them.

To be blunt: The Amish believe it's spiritually dangerous to mix with "English" locals, even if that means not cooperating with authorities investigating crimes in which their loved ones are the victims, stressed Gaus, reached by telephone. What if the state's idea of justice is little more than sinful human vengeance?