Sunday, July 24, 2011

Breaking Silence, by Linda Castillo

Book two in my mystery binge was a step up from Crunch Time, perhaps because it is only the third book in Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder series. The small-town sheriff and her boyfriend--John Tomasetti of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation--are relatively fresh characters, as is the setting, a small town in Amish country.

Kate, who was raised in an Amish family, is working two cases that are bringing back a host of troubling memories. One is an escalating series of hate crimes directed against the Amish. The other is what at first appears to be an accident--a couple and the husband's brother dead in the manure pit of their pig farm (described in nearly nauseating detail)--but is later revealed to be triple murder that leaves four children orphans. John comes to town to help with the investigation of the hate crimes. The stress of the two cases, her memories, persistent insomnia, and her shooting of a suspect escalate Kate's drinking. With John's help (readers of the earlier books in the series know he has his own demons to deal with), she manages to hold things together and solve both cases, but a total meltdown seems sure to ensue in a later title.

It's odd to me that the Amish are currently such a popular topic in reading material. I don't find the group inherently fascinating, but the situation of a woman who was formerly Amish serving as the sheriff in the "English" community near where her family lived is rife with dramatic possibilities, which Castillo exploits. I'm still looking forward to another Kate Burkholder mystery (and, lately, that's saying something).

But now, the binge goes on hold while I read The Madonnas of Leningrad, Novel Conversation's next book.

Favorite passage:
The rain started at midnight. The wind began short time later, yanking the last of the leaves from the maple and sycamore trees and sending them skittering along Main Street . . . (unfortunately, she takes the sentence in a bad direction with the last phrase: like dry, frightened crustaceans).

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