Breaking Silence, by Linda Castillo. Minotaur, $24.99 hardcover, 9780312374990
The third in Castillo’s Amish Crime series finds Police Chief Kate Burkholder facing a horrific scene as the three adults of the Slabaugh family are found, dead or dying, in their pigs’ deep cesspit. It seems an accident–one person slipped in, the other two went in to help but were asphyxiated by methane–until the autopsy reveals head and finger traumas suggesting force. This is but one set of crimes confronting Burkholder. In rapid order, she faces a slaughter of sheep; a young man stripped, beaten and left tied to his buggy in the snow overnight; and–when a barn arson includes a death–murder. Believe it or not, those are just of a few of the dark doings in the town of Painter’s Mill. Each new hate crime slams the very small law enforcement team as the plot escalates with multiple suspects, motives and exposures of dark family secrets old and new.
With crisp writing, deft plot turns, wholly unexpected revelations and tight control of the storyline, Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series is a welcome addition to the genre. Kate wrestles her personal demons, while having been raised Amish enables her to understand the culture without either patronizing or demonizing it. The supporting characters are more than mere placeholders, and include Burkholder’s colleague and occasional lover John Tomasetti, officers Glock and Pickles, Doc Colblentz and Mona the dispatcher. In Castillo’s work, each character plays an integral part in a tight, impressive novel that will keep the reader turning pages for hours. —Judith Hawkins-Tillirson, proprietress, Wyrdhoard Books, and blogger at Still Working for Books
Discover: Murder in Amish country in a taut, well-crafted page-turner that will keep the reader up into the night.