Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Salon - Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

If you can go way back in your memory to James Patterson's early Alex Cross books, you will understand the pleasure of reading Linda Castillo's debut thriller, Sworn to Silence. The excitement, the fast pace, and the serial killer reminds me of the best of early Patterson.

Kate Burkholder is the police chief in Painters Mill, a small town in Holmes County, Ohio, Amish Country. She's only been on the job two years, hired to come home because she had grown up Amish, could speak Pennsylvania Dutch, and could work with the ordinary townspeople as well as the Amish. But, her background as a police officer, and a homicide detective, might not be enough when a young woman's body is found. Kate and the coroner both recognize the killer's trademark, something that hasn't been seen on a body in sixteen years in Painters Mill.

Now, Police Chief Burkholder has to look for a killer, while keeping at bay her own demons, memories from sixteen years earlier, when a fourteen-year-old Kate thought she faced down that same man. She's eager to keep the case under wraps, and keep her own secrets. When the town council calls for help from the local sheriff and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Kate has to cover up her past. But, it's going to be hard to keep secrets from John Tomasetti, the cold-eyed investigator, a rogue himself, who is sent in from the BCI, an agency with its own agenda.

Castillo's Sworn to Silence marks the debut of a remarkable new voice in crime fiction. It's a voice that introduces a flawed character, Police Chief Kate Burkholder, a woman with a fascinating, unfamiliar background. Amish Country has been used as a background for crime novels and movies, including Witness. But, Burkholder, with her feet straddling both the Amish and the modern world, is a welcome addition to those books. Sworn to Silence is violent and graphic, with the details of torture and death. The contrast to the peaceful Amish world, and a quiet January in Painters Mill, makes the thriller that much more powerful. Castillo, and Police Chief Kate Burkholder, are worth watching.

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I stand corrected. Although Sworn to Silence is Castillo's first thriller, it is not her first novel. Actually, she's an award-winning author of romantic suspense. My mistake. But, she is worth watching as a thriller writer, and as the author of this series.
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Linda Castillo's website is www.lindacastillo.com

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2009. ISBN 9780312374976 (hardcover), 336p.

18 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

The police chief sounds really interesting and I enjoy reading about the Amish. Sounds like one I'll pick up.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Pat R. said...

Sworn to Silence is just a great book. I hope that this is the beginning of a series.

Lesa said...

I hope you do try it, Elizabeth. It was a great book. I'm passing it on to my husband. That's a sign it's good.

Lesa said...

Pat -

If I'm reading Castillo's website correctly, she's working on another featuring Kate Burkholder. And, I know St. Martin's Minotaur heavily promoted the book. It's also #28 on the NYTimes Bestseller list right now. I think there will be a sequel.

Kelly @ The Novel Bookworm said...

I really liked this one too. I love the comparison to early Patterson, very apt!

Lesa said...

Kelly,

It reminded me of Kiss the Girls, and that was one of Patterson's best.

Literary Feline said...

You sure do make this one sound good, Lesa! I actually was planning to read this one before reading your review, but you've definitely increased my interest in it.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Wendy!

And, I didn't give too much away, so I didn't spoil it for you at all. Enjoy it!

bermudaonion said...

I really want to read this after your great review.

Fay said...

Lesa, I'm pleased to discover your blog through the Sunday Salon feed, and you do make the Castillo book sound enticing.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Bermudaonion. If you like a good thriller, try this one!

Lesa said...

Welcome, Fay!

I hope you come back now and then, if you enjoy mysteries and crime fiction. The Castillo book is a topnotch thriller.

Anonymous said...

I read this one a while ago for review and loved it. I agree about the Patterson comparison but also think it bears a favorable resemblance to Julia Spencer-Fleming in the struggle between the Amish community and religion and the rest of life in Painters Mill.

Lesa said...

That's interesting. I had vaguely thought of Julia Spencer-Fleming, so I'm glad you saw the resemblance as well.

caite said...

I agree that this was a very good and enjoyable book, as I noted in my review and I certainly also hope she writes more thrillers.

Lesa said...

Thanks for the link to your blog, Caite. I agreed with your review. Everything I've seen points to this as a series.

Jen said...

I KNOW I have a copy of this one coming. I already have it on my reading schedule. As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I'd be reading it. Maybe it's just the Ohio connection! ;)

Lesa said...

Even my husband is enjoying this one, Jen, and he and I don't often read the same books. Holmes County, OH. I was interested because of the Amish & Ohio connection.