Monday, July 07, 2014

The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo

Linda Castillo quotes Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in her latest crime novel. "Let the dead Past bury its dead." In The Dead Will Tell, Police Chief Kate Burkholder has to deal with a thirty-five-year-old massacre. Now, someone is targeting those who knew what happened on that tragic March night in 1979. The past is reaching out to bury the living.

The Willis Hochstetler farm was the site of a horrendous family tragedy in 1979. Willis was shot to death in a robbery that went wrong, four of his five children died when the farmhouse went up in flames, and his wife, Wanetta, disappeared. Only fourteen-year-old Billy survived, to be taken in by another Amish family.

Painters Mill Police Chief Kate Burkholder was only a one-year-old Amish girl when the Hochstetler tragedy happened. But, she grew up like other girls, knowing the abandoned Hochstetler farm was haunted. And, she knew Billy as Hoch Yoder, who went on, with his wife, Hannah, to run Yoder's Pick-Your-Own Apple Farm. But, the death of Dale Michaels leads her to Yoder's to question Hoch about that night. Michaels, a successful businessman, retired, and a doting grandfather, is found dead with an Amish peg doll in his mouth, and on the bottom of the doll it says, "Hochstetler".

While Kate is dealing with escalating murders, all linked by threatening notes and Amish dolls, John Tomasetti, the man she loves, is dealing with his own broken past. One of the men involved in the murder of Tomasetti's wife and daughters is released from prison on a technicality. Tomasetti may be an agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, but he's also an angry, grieving man. Kate insists it's time for him to leave his past behind, and look at their future.

Linda Castillo writes powerful crime novels set in Ohio's Amish country, novels that reveal violence doesn't discriminate. The peaceful, Amish lifestyle can sometimes attract violence. Kate Burkholder is a bigger-than-life character, with her own troubled past, a job and small staff that she loves, and a relationship with another troubled person who understands her black-and-white philosophy. Tomasetti has a dark side, an unpredictable side, "triggered by pain and injustice." Castillo's novels are attractive because of those two battered characters who struggle daily, witnessing violence, and trying to find justice.

The Dead Will Tell is the latest gripping novel by a writer who combines fascinating, complex characters with compelling, brutal crime stories. Castillo's story is a riveting page-turner, one of the best books I've read this year.

(Note - I'm not accepting entries now. On Wednesday, there will be a Q&A with authors Linda Castillo and Lisa Unger, and I'll be giving away copies of their books, including The Dead Will Tell.)

Linda Castillo's website is

The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo. Minotaur Books. 2014. ISBN 9781250029560 (hardcover), 320p.

Would you like to hear an audio clip of the first chapter?

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Beth Hoffman said...

Well, Lesa, if it's one of the best books you've read this year, then it's going on my list (which is dangerously out of control). LOL

Lesa said...

Beth, It's one of the few series I read that's gritty. Love her characters, scenarios, and writing. Sorry about that list. (snicker)

susan morrison said...

I have been hooked on her books from the first book in the series. Linda Castillo is a marvelous writer; it is almost impossible to put down her books once you start.

Lesa said...

You are so right, Susan. I couldn't put it down.

Reine said...

Sounds like a great book, Lesa. I love books like this as long as they aren't too graphic. The ausio clip is excellent!

Lesa said...

Hmm. Too graphic, Reine. I don't think so. If it was, I glossed over it. But, it could come across more graphic if you listen to it.

Reine said...

From listening to the audio clip it didn't sound like it would be too graphic. I was only saying that I love the intense stories when they aren't very graphic. I can do without another autopsy and will never again read a torture scene. As soon as I see it coming I stop reading.

I have read quite a few that were too graphic for me but managed because the story was great. Now, though I avoid them. There was one a few years ago that I couldn't read past the third page. It was written in the present tense, and that difference made it too real. I still have a vivid and visceral recollection of it, which is not what I look for in a book.

I am going to order this one. Your review, and the clip, sold me. Thanks, Lesa!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Reine. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Karen C said...

I so enjoy Linda Castillo's writing and the Kate Burkholder series. Adding to the TBR.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

It is an incredible book and one of my top five to this point for the year. My review goes up tomorrow and includes a link to the review here.

Thanks again for the read, Lesa.


Lesa said...

Oh, Kevin! I'm so glad you liked it as much as I did. Looking forward to reading your review. And, thank you for the link!