Shattered Silence (Echo Falls Book 3)
July 31st, 2018
Shattered Silence by Marta Perry flawlessly intertwines a mystery with contemporary themes, while giving a sprinkling of the Amish culture. She illuminates
the differences between the Amish community and the larger urban society.
The plot begins with new divorcee Rachel Hartline attempting to
touch base with her ex-husband, Paul, to discuss putting their home up for sale. After catching him trying to download some sensitive company information things go very awry for her. First, she must deal with Paul’s disappearance, and then a private
investigator, Clint Mordan, hired by the CEO to locate the flash drive, suspects her of being a likely participant in her husband’s scheme. After having her house broken into, turned upside down, and having her life threatened she decides to seek
the haven of her grandparents. They are Amish and Rachel knows she will be safe with them. As Clint follows Rachel from Philadelphia to the tiny Amish community of Echo Falls, Pennsylvania, he figures out that whatever loyalty Rachel might still feel,
it doesn’t include lying or covering up for her ex-husband. As he and his partner hit dead ends he wonders why their client is keeping them in the dark, and becomes more protective of Rachel. As they begin to trust each other, both realize that there
are few people they can trust to ensure Rachel does not become a murder victim.
Perry does a great job of balancing the family element within
a suspenseful plot, which have moments of fear, dread, and tension. Once the first page is turned readers will be hooked, as they must navigate all the different twists thrown at them.
Elise Cooper: You contrast the city life versus the Amish life?
Marta Perry: I wanted to write something that would dramatize the modern life of the
character against the quiet secluded farm life. I have always lived in areas where there are Amish. As a child, I lived in Southern Pennsylvania where there was an old order of Mennonites. We all went to school together so I have several
friends in that community. I understood that there are some aspects of their life that are different than mine.
EC: It seems
stories involving the Amish are popular, including bestselling author Linda Castillo?
MP: I never met her but I have read her books. I think at first, people thought it was a fad and would
not last, but it has turned into a sub-genre. Readers enjoy it because they can react to the complexity of their modern life. They enjoy reading about those who live in the contemporary world but have a much simpler life. I have spoken with
some Amish who say, ‘if you like our reliance on family, rely on yours or build one; if you like the fact we are interconnected within our community, do it in your community.’ I think many wish they had the simpler existence, similar to when they
were growing up.
EC: Were you influenced by the Harrison Ford Amish movie, “Witness”?
MP: The movie was set in Lancaster County. At that time, I had insight on what they got correct and what they got wrong. They contrasted beautifully the differences in life style. The opening scene in the train
station with all the noise and confusion versus the hills, farms, and serenity of the Amish place. I wanted to give this type of an image in my book. I wrote of the suburban areas, for example, how the characters had to navigate during rush hour, all
that traffic. Rachel understood those in the city keep to themselves, reserving their private space.
EC: Rachel enjoyed
her time on her Amish grandparents’ farm?
MP: She felt safe and secure, but knew there would be no solitude because people are always around. If someone wanted to be solitary don’t
go to the Amish because family, Church, job, and community are all intertwined.
EC: The language of the Amish has guttural intonation?
MP: They speak Pennsylvania Dutch derived from the German language. It is an archaic language since they still speak the language of the 1700s. When they come across a word where there is no translation to
the Pennsylvania Dutch they use the English word, appearing like it is thrown into the middle of a sentence. Remember I am not writing their language but it is in English, and I need to use the same sentence structure.
EC: How would you describe Rachel?
MP: She is a Kindergarten teacher and I based her on some of the wonderful, kind ones
I knew. As a traditionalist, she is devastated by the fact that she couldn’t make her marriage work, always thinking she would marry for life. Those people in her life that are close to her let her down, a big element in the formation of her personality.
Although conscientious she has trust issues, including trusting her own instincts. I do not think she is as independent as she assumes. For instance, when she realizes she is in trouble and needs help she doesn’t flee to the nearest big city where
she can disappear, but goes back to what represents home to her, the Amish community, seeking security and safety.
EC: How would
you describe Clint?
MP: He is motivated by a sense of duty. He is a very righteous person who believes in duty first and honor above all. Unlike Rachel he was raised in a very secure
and stable environment. Clint is haunted by the fact he felt he let his police partner down and is determined that now as a private investigator it will not happen again to Rachel. He would not talk about this issue because he is uncomfortable talking
about his feelings, forcing Rachel to develop a short hand to figure out what is going on with his emotions.
EC: How would you describe
the relationship between Clint and Rachel?
MP: They are basically made for each other, but it takes a long time to realize. They complete each other. Although they express it in different
ways, they are similar in their values at the deepest level of family, trustworthiness, and honestly.
EC: You made her husband
Paul a gambling addict?
MP: He stole savings and jewelry from Rachel. He put it ahead of her. He was always looking for that part of the gold that would transform his life.
EC: You also explore the issue of divorce?
MP: Most of us have seen that as a couple
they had this community of friends together. But after breaking up suddenly it becomes for the friends or the individual hard to navigate the separation.
EC: Family is an important theme?
MP: People should love unconditionally. This does not mean children cannot be scolded, corrected, or punished. It is similar to how her
grandparents loved Rachel no matter where her life took her. When a child leaves the Amish community, there is a sense of grief with a feeling that the child is denying the lifestyle and beliefs. As time passes they do maintain a relationship with
their son or daughter. They still go to all the Amish family picnics and birthday parties. They make the distinction they are no longer Amish, but still are family.
EC: There is a scene in the book where Rachel’s Amish family were willing to have a car drive them to her?
MP: It is common among the Pennsylvania Amish. They
do not own or drive a car, but if they need to make a long trip there is nothing in their rules to prevent them from hiring an English driver. The horse and buggy is the reason for the ban on owning cars since it is central to their way of life, with
everything needed to be a reasonable distance.
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next books?
MP: This is the last book in this series, in which all are related by a place. My next series will start with a book about an Amish outsider, and will be related by characters. A man left the Amish community and married
an “Englisher.” The marriage disintegrated and then she was killed. He wanted to seek a place to recuperate with his eight-year-old child so he reluctantly turns to his Amish family after he becomes a person of interest. I am also going
to write an Amish saga that will be more complex; although it will be with another publisher.