In AMONG THE INNOCENT, the story features a killer from the past coming after the one victim he left behind—Leah Miller. Leah was once a young Amish woman who watched her entire family get murdered by a killer who marched them into the family’s barn and killed each one in front of Leah, saving her for last. The killer’s parting words, “You’ll always belong to me”, still haunt Leah. She’s always believed the wrong person was accused of the crime. While Leah survived, she left the Amish faith and became a police officer. Leah has no idea when she responds to a call in Amish country that she’ll be catapulted back to the past and come face-to-face with the real killer who murdered her family.
I loved the idea of setting the story among the simple ways of the Amish and placing a dangerous element, such as a serial killer on the hunt, into this environment. In my opinion, it really enhanced the good versus evil aspect of the book.
In researching the location for AMONG THE INNOCENT, I found the Amish community of St. Ignatius, Montana and fell in love with the area immediately. There is so much beauty surrounding both the community and the town. It made the perfect contrast to the danger in the book.
The community is backed up against the rugged Mission Mountains where the mountains almost act as another character in the book. They cast their shadows on the Amish community below them and are silent witnesses to the horror unfolding below.
The isolation and vast stretches of countryside around the Amish community provide plenty of places for a killer to hide.
Both the Amish community and the town of St. Ignatius are both located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. This is the only Amish community in the US located on tribal lands. There are actually three different law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction in the area. The St. Ignatius Police department, the Flathead Tribal police, and the sheriff’s department out of Polson. All three agencies are featured in AMONG THE INNOCENT.
One of the most fascinating things I discovered about the area was learning about the historic beauty of the St. Ignatius Mission. The mission was built in the late 1800s by American Indians and Jesuit missionaries. On the walls and ceiling of the mission there are 58 hand-painted murals painted by Brother Joseph Carignano, a self-taught artist who worked as the mission cook and handyman many years ago.
From the moment you step into the mission, visitors are overwhelmed by the breathtaking beauty of the murals. They depict scenes from the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament, and the lives of the saints.
I loved the mission so much that I knew I had to write a scene taking place there. I created a set-up scene where Leah was scheduled to meet with someone who supposedly has information about the killer. Only it turns out to be yet another game of the killer. Soon, Leah realizes the killer was there in disguise and she goes after him. With the help of someone from the St. Ignatius Mission, I discovered the best way to have the killer escape from the building and disappear without being detected.
Though I haven’t visited St. Ignatius, Montana in person, reading about it and the Amish community certainly makes me want to add it to my bucket list for a future visit. I’m thinking one day soon, my husband and I will plan a trip there and who knows, maybe I’ll even pen another book featuring this breathtaking location.
One reader who comments will win a print copy of AMONG THE INNOCENT.
All the best…