Friday, July 1, 2011

SEPARATE FROM THE WORLD by P.L. Gaus



“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 6:17
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The Amish, as P. L. Gaus portrays them in Separate from the World, are truly separate, set aside. 

They are set aside in ways different than you might at first expect.  It is not just that they drive buggies, dress differently, and seem to be more reticent.  It is that they follow a different code.  They do not crave vengeance.  And they are reluctant to protect themselves, to try to hide from or struggle against a murderer. 

At one point, an Amish Bishop says to Branden—

“What is justice?  It is nothing in this world.  No.  It is testimony alone that matters, Professor.  An evil person has testified about himself because every act of life is testimony.  We all testify with our lives.  That testimony is laid down as an historical record in the linear realm of time, but our testimony is lodged also in the infinite realm of eternity, where it stands as a witness of what we thought, said, and did.  From the viewpoint of eternity, the condition of our hearts is assessed by God, as we testify about ourselves.  As our lives are written in the record of eternity.  Based on this assessment, our lives are judged by God, who is solely capable of doing this.  There is, therefore, no escaping who we are and what we have done.  Our lives follow us into eternity.  We let God judge us all.  We are content to accept His judgment.  We let God judge the hearts of evil men, because He alone is qualified to do that.”

As Gaus portrays them, the Amish are unrelently pacifist.   That’s what God expects of them, and that’s how they live.

Gaus’ story begins with three threads.  Pastor Cal Troyer receives shocking news.  An Amish dwarf asks Professor Michael Branden to find the man who murdered the dwarf’s brother.  And a college co-ed commits suicide. 

The story continues with the kidnapping of an Amish child , with Branden’s discovery of dishonesty and two breaches of ethics by colleagues on his own campus, and with another apparent suicide.

The story closes with Professor Branden, Branden’s wife Caroline, and Pastor Troyer fighting for their lives.

Those familiar with this mystery series know it features several ongoing characters.  Among them are Pastor Troyer, Professor Branden and his wife Caroline (She is a strong character), and Sheriff Bruce Robertson.  The three men have known each other since childhood.

For me, this story was among the best of the Gaus Amish novels I have read so far.  It had action, a psychopathic killer, and questions of morality and ethics which seem very true to the world.  It also showed us inside the Amish way of life as effectively as any outside writer could.

I find these books to be the most authentic mystery stories about the Amish I have ever read. 

If you have not read any of the books in this series, I recommend you try one.

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PS For a good review of the latest book in the series, see--


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