Linda Castillo knows how to put a twist in a story. Poor Kate Burkholder, Police Chief of Painters Mill, Ohio, has a number of twisted tales and statements to try to tie together in A Gathering of Secrets.
Within six months, two Amish teenagers die tragically. It's not until Daniel Gingerich is murdered, locked in a barn when the barn is set on fire, that Burkholder learns of the earlier death. In the course of the investigation into Daniel's death, someone mentions Emma Miller. The young woman hanged herself six months earlier. It's unusual for the Amish community to have two violent deaths in such a short time.
Although Daniel appeared to be a golden boy, well thought of by all the adults in the community, some of the younger people, even his former best friend, tell a different story. Kate knows there are secrets that led to the young man's death. And, as she probes into his past, Kate finds too many similarities to the tragedy of her own youth. Those similarities haunt her, cause nightmares, and she finds herself making bad decisions at times, based on her past experiences.
Castillo's novels have always included the patient gathering of evidence. While I wouldn't call Castillo's books police procedurals, the reader follows along as Burkholder questions witnesses, follows clues, discusses the case. In A Gathering of Secrets, her significant other, John Tomasetti, from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, steps up to the plate to listen and be there as Kate struggles with the case, her past, and her own conflicted feelings about the victim.
There's always been a family atmosphere with Burkholder's small group of police officers. That's part of the enjoyment of these books, observing the close-knit group of officers as they come together to support each other in good times and bad. There are both in this book. If you follow the series for the return of this team, you'll appreciate this story. And, of course, the setting in Ohio's Amish country, with the information about the people, is appealing.
If the commentary on A Gathering of Secrets doesn't seem to say too much about the book, there's a reason. Although there are twists, the ending didn't come as a surprise. There were signs that pointed in the direction of the conclusion of the case. But, I can keep a secret, as so many of the characters in the book try to do. And, I don't want to spoil the ending for those who have waited a year for the return of Kate Burkholder, Tomasetti, and her team. Just know, there are a number of threads to tie together in Castillo's latest intriguing novel, A Gathering of Secrets.
Linda Castillo's website is www.lindacastillo.com
A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo. Minotaur Books, 2018. ISBN 9781250121318 (hardcover), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.