Kate Burkholder has been the Chief of Police in the small town of Painters Mill, Ohio for two years. Before that she worked for the Columbus PD in the Homicide Division. Kate isn't your typical small town cop. Part of the reason the town council hired her as chief was because she used to live there - but more importantly, she used to be Amish. Painters Mill includes a large Amish community and the mayor and members of the council thought it would work to their advantage to have an ex-Amish person on the force. Kate didn't let the fact that her hiring was a political move bother her - she's just wanted to be a good cop and do her job.
Kate's world was rocked when in the dead of winter on a frozen January night the body of a brutally murdered young woman was discovered in a field. With virtually no evidence found at the scene, Kate has to rely on her experience and small staff to solve this case. It quickly becomes obvious, once the body is autopsied, that there are disturbing similarities between this murder and several other murders that took place sixteen years earlier, known as The Slaughterhouse Murders. To make matters worse, more bodies are being discovered. As Kate scrambles to find answers, she is forced to open up a part of her past that she has worked hard to forget. Sixteen years ago, when she was only fourteen, she experienced her own kind of horror that changed the course of her life forever. No one knows her secret but when the bodies start adding up, she fears a connection and prays she can control it without jeopardizing the case. It's not only herself she's worried for, but her Amish family who banned her when she was eighteen.
Linda Castillo is a master crime fiction writer. At no time during this book was there a lull in the story or even a moment that was not edge-of-your-seat thrilling. I'm not a huge murder mystery reader, but Ms. Castillo has lit a fire under me that leaves me excited to read more of her work. SWORN TO SILENCE was released in June of 2009 and is the first in the new Kate Burkholder Series. I'm excited to tell you that the second book, PRAY FOR SILENCE, just came out on June 22nd of 2010. I'm looking forward to reading it very soon.
Kate Burkholder is an original and interesting lead character that is so believable that I instantly became her ally in this quest to find the killer. She's tough, but not over-the-top. Bringing in the Amish element, not only to the general storyline, but into Kate's personal background was genius. I loved the contrast between the Amish and newer English ways of life. She does a great job of showing how two totally different cultures can exist side by side in a modern world. The supporting cast of characters are genuine and just as original as Kate's character. You can feel the bond these people have created in the short two years Kate has been their leader and you can sense the loyalty. That's not to say that all of the characters are on Kate's side. There is some conflict at play from certain other characters that gives the story a realistic feel as well.
SWORN TO SILENCE is first and foremost a story about serial murders, so there are some disturbing accounts regarding the brutality of the victims, but its not to the point that I had to skip over it. I don't like gore in the books that I read. Linda Castillo knows the perfect balance to ensure the reader gets the true feel for what the characters are dealing with without going too far. She even manages to bring in a physical attraction between Kate and another great character but smartly, doesn't veer too far from the main point of the book, which is solving these murders. Most of the book is told from Kate's perspective in the first person, but there are times when the reader is following John Tomasetti, a profiler brought in from another agency to help with the case, and those parts are told in the third person.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone, especially those who enjoy suspenseful crime novels. There is not one dull moment in this book. If you're interested in learning more about Linda Castillo and her books, please visit her website. You can also read an excerpt from the new installment. PRAY FOR SILENCE. If you've never read her books, I encourage you to give them a try. You won't be disappointed.
Author: Linda Castillo
Publisher: Minotour Books
Published: June 2009
Rating: 5 Stars out of 5 (Highly Recommend)