Sunday, July 10, 2016

Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo

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

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.


Kevin R. Tipple said...

I keep hoping my local library is going to get a print copy of this. Her series is great and very popular here. Despite that fact, it appears they are going with some audio version and an e-book deal and no print copies.

They also seem to have suddenly had a huge turnover in staff. The folks who knew me and we talked books, my wife's cancer fight, our kids, etc are now suddenly gone. Their replacements parrot obviously learned robotic responses to any question.It is sad.

Things are changing and not for the better. Or, I am getting old and have far less tolerance for nonsense these days.

Kay said...

I read this one a while back as I was lucky enough to get an advance copy. I was pleased with it, as I love this series so much. That being said, it is a different take on Kate's world. One that is good for her character, but I missed the Painter's Mill crew too. Kind of like when Louise takes Gamache and company away from Three Pines. Those books develop the characters in new ways, but some of the familiarity is gone. Back to this story - I was very interested in seeing how Kate dealt with her undercover assignment and was clicking the pages (my copy was e-book) as fast as I could. Such a good series!!

Lesa said...

I'll send you my ARC, Kevin. I'll pull it from the pile right now.

I am sorry to hear that, though, about your library. I've seen it happen at a branch where I was manager, and everyone went to other branches, except me. It's tough on the customers who do have staff members they like to talk to. And, it's sad to see the loss of "real" books. Keep me posted as to other ones you'd like. I won't always have them, but I'll keep an eye out.

Lesa said...

You're right, Kay. I miss Three Pines when Gamache is gone, but we wouldn't want it to become Cabot Cove. And, I definitely missed the Painters Mill team. Sometimes, the author & the character need to stretch. This worked well for Kate's character. And, I was also turning pages as fast as I could.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Big time thank you, Lesa.

Yes, I think some of it is the branch rotation deal you talked about. But, I think some folks may have lost their jobs and been replaced by far cheaper new hires. Several of the now missing staff members had eitehr dealt one on one with cancer issues or knew folks very well who had. So, they always made a point to not only see how I was doing, but to check on Sandi. They are suddenly gone and those that have replaced them absolutely won't say what happened or give any clue at all.

I have not tried their eBook system since I have heard so many patrons in lines seeking help and have heard negative things. I was very surprised that this book was in that situation here as she is a very popular author. Hopefully, it is being ordered and the folks who told me no are very wrong. That would not be the first time for that either.

Thank you again, Lesa.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

One good thing reading mysteries is when you discover a new series that has been going a while and have a bunch of books to catch up with, as I did with this one after several of your reviews/comments got me to try the first one about six weeks ago. Luckily, not only does my library have all of the books, but my local branch has most of them right there on the shelf so I don't even have to reserve them and wait for them to arrive.

I'm up to the fourth book - the first two were particularly vicious, I thought - and I must admit there is a little bit of "Cabot Cove syndrome" involved. That is, if you were Amish and lived in Painters Mill, wouldn't you move away fast? I mean, it does not seem to be a various safe place for Amish people!

Anyway, thanks for putting me on to a very good series.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

As far as librarians go, they seem to have been told to basically just sit at the desk and let the patrons do the work themselves, not only of checking books out and back in but of finding what they need without much help. It isn't like it used to be. Some of the librarians are more helpful and proactive than others, who seem to spend much of their shifts sitting behind the desk reading.

As Bill Crider is wont to say, I miss the old days.

Kristopher said...

Great review. Nice to see that we are on the same page in many ways. I didn't mention the quilt shop in my review, but I did love the interactions there as well.