It takes a tornado to uncover the past and reveal raw emotions in Linda Castillo's strongest entry yet in her Kate Burkholder series. After the Storm is a gritty, intricately plotted story, that begins with a catastrophe that leads to turmoil.
Painters Mill Police Chief Kate Burkholder and her lover, John Tomasetti, are caught out in the tornado that hits the small Ohio town, but they manage to beat the storm. However, the tornado destroys a trailer park and part of another development. It's at the trailer park, though, that Kate faces the decision that will haunt her. Does she move a four-month-old baby who is crushed in a trailer, although her injuries could be worse if she moves her, or does she try and stay, risking everyone's safety, knowing she and Tomasetti smell gas?
The decision about the baby is only one of the problems Burkholder faces as police chief. A troop of Boy Scouts uncover a human skull and bones while cleaning up a farm site after the tornado. As she pieces together the clues about a missing person from over ten years earlier, Kate realizes this wasn't a natural death. Someone in Painters Mill has a secret they've been hiding for years, and the identification of the body may stir up trouble in the Amish farming community.
Castillo's books are outstanding, not just because of the crime drama, but also because of the relationships in the book. Burkholder's trust and faith in her team in the police department is essential in the development of the procedural aspects of this series, the careful development of investigations and cases. As police chief, she has a difficult time dealing with the Amish community. They don't trust authority, and they don't trust a woman who was once part of their community, and chose to leave.
In the course of this series, Kate and Tomasetti have been awkwardly navigating their relationship. Both damaged characters have tragedy in their past, but they've managed to forge stronger bonds, trying to build a life together. But, Painters Mill isn't the only thing turned upside down in this story. Kate and Tomasetti have their own issues, and Kate's career and the dangers she face threaten their shaky partnership.
Personally and professionally all hell breaks loose in After the Storm. It's an intense, powerful drama. As I said, it's Linda Castillo's strongest entry yet in this series set amidst Ohio's Amish community.
Linda Castillo's website is www.lindacastillo.com
After the Storm by Linda Castillo. Minotaur Books. 2015. ISBN 9781250061560 (hardcover), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.