P.L. Gaus and Linda Castillo both set their Amish mysteries near Holmes County, Ohio. They both write fascinating books, but they're worlds apart. While Gaus' books delve into the culture, Castillo's books are more violent, with that violence focused on the Amish. The third book in Castillo's series, Breaking Silence takes Police Chief Kate Burkholder into a world of hate crimes and murder, with the Amish at the center of that world.
When sheep are violently killed on a farm, Burkholder doesn't know if that act of violence was just directed at the gruff woman who lived there. But, the sheriff of Holmes County is worried enough about crimes directed at the Amish to call for help from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. Fortunately Agent John Tomasetti is the one sent to Painters Mill, Ohio. He and Burkholder worked well together on two previous cases, and their troubled pasts have drawn them closer to each other.
By the time Tomasetti arrives, Burkholder has a scene with multiple deaths on an Amish farm. Three people from one family died in a manure pit where there's danger of methane gas. Four Amish young people are left orphaned, breaking Kate's heart. When the coroner concludes that one of the men was murdered, she's determined to find answers for those children. Are these deaths connected to the rash of hate crimes in the county? Or, did someone intend to kill the Slabaughs? Somehow, Burkholder must find a way to break through, convincing someone in the Amish community to talk.
Once again, Castillo shows that violent crime can find its way into the peaceful Amish community. The character of Kate Burkholder is an excellent vehicle for these crime novels, a law officer who left the Amish life herself, a woman who understands the community, but can no longer be a part of it because of her own violent history. She's a police officer forced to face violence every day, but she faces it with her heart, and, sometimes raw emotion. Breaking Silence may be about breaking the Amish code of silence, but it's also about Burkholder breaking her own silence, revealing more of herself to Tomasetti.
Castillo's Amish crime novels are violent thrillers with a fascinating protagonist. Breaking Silence will draw you into Police Chief Kate Burkholder's world in Ohio's Amish country.
Linda Castillo's website is www.LindaCastillo.com.
Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo. St. Martin's Minotaur. ©2011. ISBN 9780312374990 (hardcover), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.
Personal note - I just returned from Ohio where I read a newspaper article about Millersburg, Ohio, the heart of Amish country, where 150 Amish men and women turned out for a meeting with law enforcement to discuss the invasion of meth into their community. Although no Amish had been arrested, the crimes associated with meth were beginning to affect the Amish. As much as they would like to remain separate from the world, the world is finding a way to invade. The novels by Castillo and Gaus examine crime and its impact on Amish life.
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