Thursday, April 23, 2009
On Christmas Eve in 1985, a hunter found a young boy's body along an icy corn field in Nebraska. The residents of Chester, Nebraska buried him as Little Boy Blue, unclaimed and unidentified,until a phone call from Ohio two years later led authorities to Eli Stutzman, the boy's father. Eli Stutzman, the son of an Amish bishop, was by all appearances a dedicated farmer and family man in the country's strictest religious sect. But behind his quiet facade was a man involved with pornography, sadomasochism, and drugs. After the suspicious death of his pregnant wife, Stutzman took his preschool-age son, Danny, and hit the road on a sexual odyssey ending with his conviction for murder.
I ordered this book in January 2009 and received it on the 26th January.I can work out that I probably started reading this book around the second week of February.I just finished reading it now because it became my filler book.I would read a few pages and then stop.This is a very difficult review for me because I need to explain a few things first so you can see where I am coming from.
I was drawn to this book because it mentioned the Amish people and also because it is written by Gregg Olsen who is a favorite writer of mine.I did brace myself as I knew it was about a child and these books are usually hard for me to read but what I did not expect from this book was the lonely journey I was going to take while reading it.
Having "abandoned" in the title is absolutely appropriate if you have to take my feelings into account as I was reading.The murdered child is found at the beginning of the book.Then the writer goes back to the beginning and details the early life of the father,Eli Stutzman.After that it goes into detail of the father's activities as he successfully avoids getting caught.And towards the end he eventually gets caught and the actual court case details is minimal but effective.He is sentenced and sent to jail.The point I am making is that the timeline that Gregg Olsen decided to use with this book left me constantly aware that this child was freezing to death in the snow.After you know what has happened and the activities of the father are then detailed you are aware of the time he abandoned the child and you are aware of this for the entire period until the body is found.The entire time I was hoping he would be found and rescued.Gregg Olsen writes brilliantly but the choice made on how to present the information on this crime case is ingenious.
In the early details of this father and son and their journey together,which was hardly the most stable set up for a child you get glimpses of abuse,either sexual or physical.This was an extremely disturbing book for me to read.It ranks up there in my top ten most disturbing books.This is what led me to take so long to read this book.In fact for the next week or so I am not going to be reading any true crime books but will instead use the time to review my old books which I have already read.I just need a break for the time being.
Gregg Olsen in his "afterword" of this book says that this book has received the most enquiries from readers wanting to know what has happned since then.I can truly believe that and I am really tempted to "google" Eli Stutzman but I will not do it.I am just going to move on and find some peace.
If you would like to find out more about this book then South African readers can access via Kalahari Books or if you would like to read some more reviews from other readers then access via the amazon link below
Abandoned Prayers: The Incredible True Story of Murder, Obsession and Amish Secrets (St. Martin's True Crime Library)
I finished reading this book in April 2009 and it has 398 pages and 8 pages of photographs.This little boy was so sweet and angelic.If I could ever be granted ONE wish it would be that no child ever suffers in any way on this earth.