The Amish, or "plain people," and English, or "vain ones," share a home county in the pastoral hills of Ohio. As summer approaches, boyhood friends and lifelong residents Pastor Caleb Troyer and Professor Michael Branden anticipate a season of fishing for bass, until a ten-year-old boy disappears from the home of the Amish bishop who had exiled the boy's father a decade earlier.
"Say little. Listen a lot" are Troyer and Branden's simple watchwords as they begin, at the behest of Bishop Eli Miller, to work the case. Following the bishop's mysterious strictures, the pair is plunged into the traditionally closed Amish society whose followers, innately suspicious of English ways, have been suddenly made vulnerable to the dangers of the world. When the man suspected of seizing the boy turns up dead, Sheriff Bruce Robertson takes up the investigation—only to uncover truths that many, especially the bishop, would prefer to leave undisturbed.