Review: Gone Missing – Linda Castillo


Kate Burkholder #4

SYNOPSIS: Rumspringa is the time when Amish teens are allowed to experience life without the rules. It’s an exciting time of personal discovery and growth before committing to the church. But when a young teen disappears without a trace, the carefree fun comes to an abrupt and sinister end, and fear spreads through the community like a contagion.

A missing child is a nightmare to all parents, and never more so than in the Amish community, where family ties run deep. When the search for the presumed runaway turns up a dead body, the case quickly becomes a murder investigation. And chief of Police Kate Burkholder knows that in order to solve this case she will have to call upon everything she has to give not only as a cop, but as a woman whose own Amish roots run deep.

Kate and state agent, John Tomasetti, delve into the lives of the missing teen and discover links to cold cases that may go back years. But will Kate piece together all the parts of this sinister puzzle in time to save the missing teen and the Amish community from a devastating fate? Or will she find herself locked in a fight to the death with a merciless killer?  – via Goodreads

GRADE 8Well, well, well. This was probably the first Kate Burkholder book that I enjoyed, for a multitude of reasons. For one, Burkholder herself was far less grating in this one, and less liquor and “poor me” helped immensely. Then there was the fact that there was actually some change and development in the relationship between her and Tomasetti. I also enjoyed the fact that, while she spoke for ages about the Amish again, it wasn’t nearly as bad in the other books, because they were not these amazingly perfect beings or anything like that. The story was also extremely interesting, a mystery I wanted to know more of, to figure out, and instead of wasting forever and six days going around in circles in the case as usual, Castillo lines this one up perfectly, and it keeps you hooked and engaged throughout. Man, it’s actually a really good story. Not too many bells and whistles, but it’s a goodie. I think another relief for me was that technically all this drama concerning the Amish was not taking place in Painter’s Mill for a change, because I maintain that, while Burkholder has been chief of police there for three years, for a small, idyllic little town, there is a lot of murder and mayhem concerning the Amish, which makes it unbelievable. Burkholder didn’t moan nearly as much as usual, and I only had flickerings of annoyance with her this time around, and it made for an overall better experience. As you can tell, I was more impressed with this book than I thought I would be. Picked it up because I was bored and just wanted something quick, and instead I found something quick and interesting, something I did not expect from Castillo’s Burkholder series. You can also read this out of sequence – might be better all round for a look at everything, but the book gives you enough information that if you don’t know (or have forgotten a lot, like me), you will still follow without issues. Worth a look see (just don’t judge it by the cover – gosh, that is bad).

Review: Breaking Silence – Linda Castillo

breaking silence cover

Kate Burkholder #3

SYNOPSIS: Police Chief Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of a horrific tragedy on a peaceful Amish farm.

The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death—clearly, foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs’ children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?

Having grown up Amish, Kate is determined to bring the killer to justice. Because the other series of attacks are designated hate crimes, the state sends in agent John Tomasetti, with whom Kate has a long and complex relationship. Together, they search for the link between the crimes—and uncover a dark secret at work beneath the placid surface of this idyllic Amish community. – via Goodreads

GRADE 5So here I am. Back reading about this ex-Amish cop and all, and I was frustrated again. I understand she loves the Amish and their way of life and all, but a sick crime is a sick crime, not made worse because they are Amish, or that the case should affect her more because they are Amish, or because they are Amish that they are above other rules of the universe, or exempt from crime and pain and suffering, or that because they are people assholes will leave them alone. That has never applied to anyone. Also, Castillo’s writing style is still not something I enjoy, and I find it jarring, when she flips from writing about something happening with someone else, how it is described and all, and then it flips to Chief Burkholder, then it is first person, present tense. Disconcerting. Not only that, Kate Burkholder can manage to get sloshed on three shots of vodka and a beer. That must be great, imagine the money that could be saved! Anyhow, there were aspects of this book that were overly melodramatic, making it an absolute favourite of mine. Meh, as if I needed more of that. As I complained about for the last novel as well, the Amish community was milked dry for this. It is so annoying. Really. Plus dealing with the relationship with Tomasetti? Fine, but it is getting really old now. I maintain that Kate Burkholder is not a pleasant character, and being unable to identify with any aspect of her just makes this so much more a difficult read, and truly gets in the way of me caring about how she feels and what she is doing. There is also the problem that Painters Mill is a really small town but seems to be inundated with Amish hate crimes and murders. Seriously, how long can she keep this up and still call it a peaceful town? How did it all seem to happen now that she is police chief? I just don’t get it. Her work is really repetitive.

Review: Sworn to Silence – Linda Castillo

sworn_to_silence linda castillo cover

Kate Burkholder #1


SYNOPSIS: When a serial killer strikes bucolic Painters Mill, Ohio, the killer’s signature -—Roman numerals ritualistically carved into each victim’s abdomen- —matches the MO of four unsolved murders from 16 years earlier. Police chief Kate Burkholder, who’s reluctant to dredge up the past, must keep secret that she knows why the old murders stopped. Not satisfied with the case’s progress, local politicos set up a multijurisdictional task force to assist, including a law-enforcement agent battling his own demons. The added scrutiny and the rising body count threaten to push the chief over the edge. Adept at creating characters with depth and nuance, Castillo smoothly integrates their backstories into a well-paced plot that illuminates the divide between the Amish and English worlds. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7I must say that I enjoyed this one quite a bit. It was nothing revolutionary, and it was disjointed in places, but not enough to throw you from the story. Sometimes it got a little like a dog chasing a tail, things being repeated over and over again, but at the same time there was a lot of interesting stuff going on. I liked that Kate Burkholder is ex-Amish (is that how you would put that?!) as well as a police chief, much more human and imperfect. She has quite a rough back story, though it annoyed me somewhat how Castillo carried on bringing it up, and eventually it wasn’t titillating reveals all over the show, but repetitive and slightly annoying sections mentioning the same thing that had been read a few times already. However, the story was pretty good, the crime scenes were brutal, there was not really much character development but they carried the story just fine. But never mind all that, from about halfway in, suddenly the book just catches you – much more tightly written, more comprehensive, not so much lull but a lot of punches being packed… definitely worth checking into for that. It was a pity I worked out rather quickly who the murderer was, though that didn’t really detract from seeing where the story would go. I liked this book and will definitely continue with the series, see how it progresses. This is definitely not a bad book or an author to try out if you are looking for something new!