Tuesday, October 13, 2009

15. Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

I got a notice from the library that a book was being held and when I stopped by, Sworn to Silence was waiting for me on the shelf. I have no memory of putting it on hold and I can't remember when I heard about it or where! I do love a good mystery, so I was excited to get home and read it.

Sixteen years ago, a series of brutal murders shattered the peaceful farming community of Painters Mill, Ohio. A young Amish girl, Katie Burkholder, survived the terror of the Slaughterhouse Murders. In the aftermath of the killings, the town was left with a sense of fragility, a loss of innocence, and for Katie, the realization that she no longer belonged with the Amish. Now, a wealth of experience later, Kate Burkholder is back. Her Amish roots and big city law enforcement background make her the perfect candidate for Chief of Police. She's certain she's come to terms with her past -- until the first body is discovered in a snowy field. Kate vows to stop the killer before he strikes again. But to name him, she would betray both her family and her Amish past -- and expose a dark secret that could destroy her. 

I really enjoyed this book. It's a page-turner, a fast but not lightweight read. It's a great mystery, with clues dropped in throughout artfully. You can figure out the whodunit, but it's so not obvious that you lose interest or feel stupid for not catching on earlier. Castillo picked a very interesting setting, and provides good exposition on the English and the Amish co-existing. She didn't shy away from the violence; after all, the book is about a serial killer. But I appreciate that those scenes are realistic rather than gratuitously gory. This is no torture porn (a popular trend that I've noticed in movies, and think is reprehensible). I've read that Castillo is an established romance novelist who is now moving into the mystery genre. I would never have been able to guess that her background is in romance -- not that the love interest plotline in Sworn to Silence isn't well done. But overall, it's just such a well constructed mystery that it's hard to believe it's her first one. Apparently, this is the first in a series featuring Kate Burkholder. I'll be very interested to see what's next for the author and the character.

In case you're wondering, I tried to avoid giving too much detail about the plot because I think you should go out and get this book to read today! If you like mysteries at all, please give this one a chance. I think you'll be happy that you did.

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