Police Chief Kate Burkholder is sure it can’t be happening again and for a very good reason. Winter has gripped the small town of Painters Mill, Ohio and a serial killer is at work. Sixteen years ago he struck four times and Kate Buckholder is pretty sure he can’t be back now. The dead woman at the household of the Stutz place seems to belie that idea. Not only was she brutally murdered in the same savage way as before there are other signs linking the killings from sixteen years ago to the killings now.
Raised as Amish until she became rebellious and was, for all intents and purposes, disowned by her family, Kate Burkholder has seen quite a lot over the years. But, nothing prepared her for the sight of the dead woman with roman numerals carved into the skin of her stomach. Just as the killer did sixteen years ago.
Clichés and stereotypes exist for a reason. They do have a kernel of truth in them and resonate for readers both in terms of real life and in the world of fiction. They abound in this book in the form of Kate Buckholder and the outsider John Tomasetti of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Investigation. Both are flawed characters, hiding secrets from their past which could very easily destroy them, and both hold themselves apart from others. It isn’t surprising when the two make a connection on various levels and unite in a case that becomes increasingly violent and political.
This is one of those books that are hard to review. As a writer and editor, there were places in the book where it was stunningly easy to predict exactly what was going to happen. The same was true as a reader because I read so many books. For this reader, the who-dunit was no surprise once the triggering event became very obvious. It was also obvious where there were occasional continuity issues and plot point problems.
At the same time, despite the predictability and the clichés, Texas author Linda Castillo has created a highly suspenseful and atmospheric book. Much of the criticism that has noted the plot point problems and continuity issues will not impact the casual reader who allows the story to take over and doesn’t analyze the work. The book works because it is highly atmospheric, the main character isn’t run of the mill and the setting using the Amish in the area is a bit different. The author manages to hook the reader quickly and pull one deep into her world where it all does make sense and everything works.
Not only is the book, which is very violent and very graphic in several spots, worth your time and effort, it serves as the foundation of what could be an entertaining series. “Pray For Silence” is the second book in the series and is currently scheduled to be released this June.
Sworn To Silence
Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Publishing Group)
Book provided by the good folks of the Plano Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010