Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder novels never disappoint. They're emotionally intense, sometimes disturbing stories. And, in each one, we get to know Kate a little more. The latest book, Among the Wicked, takes her into her own emotions by putting her in a role she never expected to be in again, that of an Amish woman.
For four years, Kate Burkholder has been police chief of Painters Mill, Ohio, a small community of 5,300, half of whom are Amish. She herself was from an Amish family, but she left when she was eighteen. It was a struggle to survive, earn her GED, work and go to school, but she eventually returned to a community that appreciated her ability to communicate with the Amish. Now, someone else is calling on that skill. There are rumors about the new bishop in an Amish settlement in upstate New York. A young girl was found frozen to death, and there are rumors of abuse and violence. Kate is asked to go undercover. She's the only cop the New York State Bureau of Investigation could find that is fluent in Pennsylvania Dutch. When kids are at risk, Kate is willing to take a difficult job, despite the feelings of her lover, Tomasetti, an agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Kate quickly learns how difficult it is to go undercover with no immediate back-up in a location where she knows no one. She doesn't trust the bishop; others don't trust her. She finds herself in a dangerous, threatening environment, one she didn't expect in the Amish community. But, when she finds her way to a quilting shop, she finds emotions she didn't know she still felt. "I don't know if it's the part of me that's still Amish - that will always be Amish, or nostalgia, but for the first time since arriving in Roaring Springs, I'm relaxed. I like these women. I'm comfortable with them. And it occurs to me how good it feels to belong. How easy it would be to slip back into the rhythm of the old ways." Later, she says, "I re-entered a life I thought I'd left behind forever."
I have to admit I missed Kate Burkholder's team in Painters Mill. She really is on her own in New York, but she's a resourceful, strong woman. In every book, readers learn more about Burkholder, and she learns more about herself. She admits she's flawed, "not always a prudent person, particularly when it comes to my job." She likes to win, no holds barred. She's driven. She tries too hard. And, when she realizes that Tomasetti loves her despite her flaws, she's able to reach out, and the couple, a believable pair, both with flaws, reaches a new comfort in their relationship. This self-awareness makes Kate Burkholder a complex, intriguing character.
Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder novels are must-reads for me. They're intense, meaty stories that deal with a fascinating culture. The stories are compelling and fast-paced. But, it's that flawed character, Kate Burkholder, who continues to draw me back. And, Among the Wicked is another excellent book in an outstanding series.
Linda Castillo's website is www.lindacastillo.com
Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo. Minotaur Books. 2016. ISBN 9781250061577 (hardcover), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.