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 www.LindaCastillo.com
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? https://soundcloud.com/macaudio-2/the-dead-will-tell-by-linda-castillo-audiobook-chapter-1
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.