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4.4 out of 5 stars
Abandoned Prayers: An Incredible True Story of Murder, Obsession, And Amish Secrets
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2004
This book was written so well you almost felt like you were in the heartland while the search for Eli Stutzman was going on.
This book describes in cruel detail how selfish people can be. Many people in the book chose their anonimity over the well being of a child. People see a child "groping" men and rather than expose who they really are, they keep quiet and let a child suffer. Another watches in disgust as Eli masturbates with his child in the bed with him...
If just one person would have come forward; little Danny might a young man today.
And what a joke that Eli Stutzman is paroled..... his wife is dead, his son is dead, his roommate is dead.... all of which are the hands of this "mis-understood" Amishman..
I hope Eli dies a slow and painful death.
This is one of the best written true-crime books I've read. I recommend it strongly, however be prepared to shake your head in disbelief as to what this man did.... and basically got away with.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2004
In Abandoned Prayers, Gregg Olsen describes the journey of exAmishman Eli Stutzman as he travels across the heartland of America after murdering five people including his wife and son. The conclusion of the book will leave you speechless--- Mr. Stutzman gets a mere slap on the wrist after committing unspeakable crimes and instilling fear in the hearts and minds of the Amish community he turned his back on. This is a disturbing account of a man whose punishment certainly does not fit the crime. It will leave you angry at the apathy and ineptitude of various local law enforcment agencies in our land.
This book is an easy read and will hold your attention. If you are a true crime afficianado, put Abandoned Prayers at the top of your list.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon February 3, 2007
Since I have always been fascinated by the Amish and their lifestyle, and I also enjoy true crime stories, I was drawn to this book. Moreover, I remembered the story People magazine did many years ago regarding the young boy, wearing a blue sleeper, whose lifeless body had been found near a corn field in Nebraska in the dead of winter. Abandoned and discarded by the one entrusted with his care, this unknown boy, named "Little Boy Blue", stirred the hearts of the hearts of the citizens of Chester, Nebraska, who gave him a formal burial. The heart of the nation was also stirred by the People magazine article, as its citizens wondered aloud as to the identity of this little boy.

It would be sometime before that question was answered. "Little Boy Blue" turned out to be nine year old Danny Stutzman, a young boy whose angelic countenance belied a life of abuse and neglect at the hands of his father, Eli Stutzman, a man who turned his back on his Amish inheritance and left a trail of dead bodies in his wake. After the suspicious death of his Amish wife, Ida, Eli eventually abandoned all that he knew and adopted the lifestyle of the non-Amish. He also came out of the closet, as he was gay, something not tolerated by the Amish.

This is a well-researched book, but I was disappointed by it. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I felt that this was definitely not the author's best work, however potentially compelling the story. I found the writing to be sub-par, often choppy. While highly detailed, some of the details came across as needless clutter, as they were not particularly relevant to the state of affairs that was propelling Danny and others to their doom.

In addition, there was a certain homophobic ring to the author's prose that was disconcerting and off-putting. There is little doubt that Eli Stutzman was a dysfunctional human being and an abusive parent that exposed his young son to adult behavior that clearly was not in the best interest of the child. He did not, however, act this way towards his son because he was gay. He acted this way because he was a seriously disturbed human being. Unfortunately, from the author's writing one might infer that it was Eli Stutzman's sexual orientation that was at the heart of the murders and Danny's tragic end.

Despite the many rave reviews of this book, I found it mediocre fare, at best. Still, fans of the true crime genre might want to give it a whirl.
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on January 29, 2004
I see that generally this book has received positive reviews here. However, I must say that as someone who enjoys true crime books from time-to-time this one was a disappointment. The writing style was choppy and confusing. There were a lot of details included that I'm not clear were relevant. Danny, the victim, in the story actually gets very little space in the whole text. Instead the Author focuses excessively on the abusers relationships with other men. Some of these relationships were relevant as the abusive father exposed his child to adult behaviour inappropriate for a child. However there is a bit of moral tone here by the author that might lead one to believe that he is not a big fan of gay men in general. The best example I can think of his habit of directly quoting very red-neck statments by some of the officers and others involved.
Unfortunately by talking too much about Stutzmans sexual orientation (author mainly uses the word homosexual as opposed to the more modern term gay), he may have blended those old stereotypes that gay men = child abusers. In this case Stutzman was both, but the writing and the presentation leaves a progessive reader wondering.
A very sad story, but I think the book could have better.
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on November 14, 2003
As an avid reader of true crime I found his book to be compelling reading, the research that went into was very through, and although I realize that authors do have some poetic license when writing, the style in which it was written did not appear to embellish the facts of the story, and left this reader in no doubt that it was a true and factual account , easily understood and written in plain words,and it had me wanting to finish it to see how this monster was caught. I will endeavor to try and purchase the other books written by Mr Olsen. We had a somewhat similar case here in Brisbane in the 80's, an airman was found guilty of murdering a sixteen month old child and throwing her body on a toilet block roof, then released sometime later on appeal,then this year after two decades modern technology found there was more proof that he had done it ,and this time he was charged with perjury over the murder, found guilty again, but under the 800 hundred year law of double jeopardy, where you can't be charged for the same crime twice, he was released a free man, and today expressly uses the checkout lane at supermarket where the murdered child's mother works,and nobody can do anything about it. Where is the justice? Regards, Jeffrey Walsh
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on January 13, 2004
It was one of the best books I have read in a long time. The story was set partly in the area I live and there were so many facts that I can remember now from the past in reference to a couple of unsolved murders that it is scary to think all of those horrible things were going on in this rural area. The book tied so many loose ends from many years ago and really brought reality home. There are alot of sick sick people we did not even know existed. Unfortunately, they still exist and we hope Eli Stutzman dies a slow and painful death as he forced Danny to do. The book made us so much more aware of the ongoing and past atrocities committed in this small community. Unfortunately, it also woke us up to the fact just how naive we really are. It is shocking to know that Eli Stutzman is actually out of prison and able to commit his crimes on unknowing new victims.
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on October 9, 2003
I thought this book was very detailed in the way the author captured interviews from many people ranging from the people in the amish community, to the string of lovers Eli collected along the way. Your heart goes out to Danny, because he sees and goes through so much sexual abuse from the sole person he trusted, his father. The people that Danny meets along the way-that dealt with his father, see this abuse but keep quiet and go on about their daily life, they will tell you, they didn't want their secret gay life exposed. I truly believe if some of them stepped foward there may be a better chance that Danny would be alive today. He had no one to take up for him, and expose the sexual abuse in his home...I really enjoyed this book because it followed Eli very well.
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on July 2, 2002
The story of "Little Boy Blue" is just what Olsen describes it to be: shocking! As a Nebraskan, I remember when Danny Stutzman's body was found frozen near Chester, Nebraska, and I followed local news accounts of the investigation. I didn't really know the story, however, until I read Olsen's account of little Danny Stutzman's life and death. Olsen's thorough investigation and interviews and his powerful writing of Danny's story leaves no doubt about the identity of Danny's murdered. So why has Danny's killer never been brought to justice??
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on March 28, 2004
This book was awesome. This is the first time I have ever read one of Gregg Olsen's books. I have always been fascinated with the Amish. There is an amish family near me where the husband killed his wife in front of their 2 children, Crimson Stain is the name of the book I'm referring to - excellent.
After reading this book, I now want to read all of Gregg Olsen's books. Have already ordered several.
This book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it.
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on September 21, 2003
The author, Gregg Olsen delivers with this one! Well written, researched and crafted, Olsen weaves a tale that will pull the reader into a world (thank God) most of us will never see. I don't want to give away any surprises but I will say that in the end I began to wonder if its possible that some people are born without a soul much less a conscience. Go ahead, buy it and read it, I highly recommend it, but be prepared this Amish tale aint about quilts and growing corn.
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