After The Storm (Kate Burkholder #7) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: July 14, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When a tornado tears through Painters Mill and unearths human remains, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder finds herself tasked with the responsibility of identifying the bones–and notifying the family. Evidence quickly emerges that the death was no accident and Kate finds herself plunged into a thirty year old case that takes her deep into the Amish community to which she once belonged.

Meanwhile, turmoil of an emotional and personal nature strikes at the very heart of Kate’s budding relationship with state agent John Tomasetti. A reality that strains their fragile new love to the breaking point and threatens the refuge they’ve built for themselves–and their future.

Under siege from an unknown assailant–and her own personal demons–Kate digs deep into the case only to discover proof of an unimaginable atrocity, a plethora of family secrets and the lengths to which people will go to protect their own.

Review –

This was, by far, the best of the Kate Burkholder novels to date.

Besides hunting for the identity of the bones found in the crawl space of an old barn, Kate discovers that she’s pregnant. She’s on the pill but sometimes is lax about routinely taking them so she feels guilty.  Add to this that Tomasetti isn’t thrilled about it and admits that he doesn’t even think he wants kids again. Of course, later, when heads are clearer he comes to want the child and even buys Kate an Amish made cradle.

The tension between Kate and John was so strong you could feel it. Linda Castillo is a great creator of angst.

I had my fingers crossed that the author would let it work out but because of all the falls and rough blows she took subduing the murderer, Kate loses the baby. I cried and cried and cried. I guess it just wasn’t the right time for them but I have my fingers crossed that soon their happily ever after will happen.

Five stars !!!!!

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The Dead Will Tell (Kate Burkholder #6) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: July 8, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Everyone in Painters Mill knows the abandoned Hochstetler farm is haunted. But only a handful of the residents remember the terrible secrets lost in the muted/hushed whispers of time—and now death is stalking them, seemingly from the grave.

On a late-night shift, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of an apparent suicide—an old man found hanging from the rafters in his dilapidated barn. But evidence quickly points to murder and Kate finds herself chasing a singularly difficult and elusive trail of evidence that somehow points back to the tragedy of that long ago incident. Meanwhile, Kate has moved in with state agent John Tomasetti and for the first time in so long, they’re both happy; a bliss quickly shattered when one of the men responsible for the murders of Tomasetti’s family four years ago is found not guilty, and walks away a free man. Will Tomasetti be pulled back to his own haunted past?

When a second man is found dead—also seemingly by his own hand—Kate discovers a link in the case that sends the investigation in a direction no one could imagine and revealing the horrifying truth of what really happened that terrible night thirty-five years ago, when an Amish father and his four children perished—and his young wife disappeared without a trace.

And, as Kate knows—the past never truly dies .  . .

Review –

The story begins thirty-five years earlier as a young Billy Hochstetler is awakened in the middle of the night by intruders threatening his family. During the burglary, his father is shot and killed, his mother is forced to leave with the three men, and he and the children are forced into the cellar. Billy decides to try to save his mother and after escaping through a window, goes after her, leaving his brothers and sisters by themselves. He chases the get-away car, but is unsuccessful in rescuing his mother. He returns to the house to find it engulfed in flames. In one night he has lost his family.

Fast forward to present day…Painter’s Mill Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of a supposed suicide. After checking the scene and looking into other facets of the dead man’s life, it is determined that he was murdered. Inside the mouth of the murdered man was a small carved Amish doll with the name Hochstetler on it.  Circumstances in subsequent murders also  seemed to bring the Hochstetler incident into the mix. But are there any other connecting threads?

Kate and her officers, including over seventy Pickles, have to work around the clock to solves theses crimes and harm comes to some.

John Tomasetti is dealt a blow when one of the men responsible for the murders of his wife and daughters is let go-free as a bird.  Tomasetti has to do something, but will it be legal or ethical?

Kate and John have been living together now for about six months and she’s afraid that now that she’s given away her heart John will hurt her.

Great read and I can’t wait for the next one to become available on OverDrive.

 

Her Last Breath (Kate Burkholder #5) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: June 18, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A rainy night, an Amish father returning home with his three children, a speeding car hurtling toward them out of nowhere.

What at first seems like a tragic, but routine car accident suddenly takes on a more sinister cast as evidence emerges that nothing about the crash is accidental. But who would want to kill an Amish deacon and two of his children? He leaves behind a grieving widow and a young boy who clings to life in the intensive care wing of a hospital, unable to communicate. He may be the only one who knows what happened that night. Desperate to find out who killed her best friend’s husband and why, Kate begins to suspect she is not looking for a reckless drunk, but instead is on the trail of a cold blooded killer amid the residents of Painter’s Mill. It is a search that takes her on a chilling journey into the darkest reaches of the human heart and makes her question everything she has ever believed about the Amish culture into which she was born.

Review –

The story opens with a horrible accident. An Amish father and his children, returning home in their horse-drawn buggy, are demolished by a speeding car that flees into the night. A scene that is so harrowingly rendered it’s as if the reader is an eyewitness.

But was it an accident? Or was it a murder of horrific proportions? If so, why? What’s the payoff for killing off a father and his children?  Nothing is apparent and as Kate digs deeper into the family and the community, a community that still resents her departure from the fold, she uncovers dark deeds and motives that defy understanding. She was best friends, as children, with the wife of the murdered family, but did she really know her at all?

Kate’s continuing and growing relationship with FBI agent John Tomasetti only complicates her life (John has bought a farmhouse about 20 minutes from Painter’s Mill and has asked Kate to move in with him) and skews her choices. Choices that could end her career. John’s too.

Excellent story.

Gone Missing (Kate Burkholder #4)by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: June 19, 2012

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Rumspringa is the time when Amish teens are allowed to experience life without the rules. It’s an exciting time of personal discovery and growth before committing to the church. But when a young teen disappears without a trace, the carefree fun comes to an abrupt and sinister end, and fear spreads through the community like a contagion.

A missing child is a nightmare to all parents, and never more so than in the Amish community, where family ties run deep. When the search for the presumed runaway turns up a dead body, the case quickly becomes a murder investigation. And chief of Police Kate Burkholder knows that in order to solve this case she will have to call upon everything she has to give not only as a cop, but as a woman whose own Amish roots run deep.

Kate and state agent, John Tomasetti, delve into the lives of the missing teen and discover links to cold cases that may go back years. But will Kate piece together all the parts of this sinister puzzle in time to save the missing teen and the Amish community from a devastating fate? Or will she find herself locked in a fight to the death with a merciless killer?

Review –

Another fantastic book in the Kate Burkholder series. 

This book continues the slow evolution of the Kate Burkholder character as she begins to feel a little more confident not just in her job, but as a woman who can have a real and positive relationship with a man.  John Tomasetti seems to have come to terms with his past and is ready to move on and hopes Kate can do the same. But can she?

The bottom line is GONE MISSING is a complex, often very dark and extremely graphic mystery, that pulls no punches and will mess with your mind long after the last page.

 

Loved it!

 

 

Breaking Silence (Kate Burkholder #3) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: June 21, 2011

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Police Chief Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of a horrific tragedy on a peaceful Amish farm.
The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death—clearly, foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs’ children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?

Having grown up Amish, Kate is determined to bring the killer to justice. Because the other series of attacks are designated hate crimes, the state sends in agent John Tomasetti, with whom Kate has a long and complex relationship. Together, they search for the link between the crimes—and uncover a dark secret at work beneath the placid surface of this idyllic Amish community.

Review –

This story had so many twists and turns I almost got whiplash! Every time I thought I had things solved, another wrench would be thrown into the mix. As with the first two books, the crimes are gritty and require multi-jurisdictional support. Connecting the clues was a wonderful challenge.

Kate and John Tomasetti make progress in their relationship but it’s not easy. I really like how they’re portrayed, faults and all, adding a strong, realistic element to their story.

I’m hopelessly hooked on this series, especially the audio performance by Kathleen McInerney who continues to make a really good story exceptional. I’ve already got the next book in the queue. Can’t wait.

Pray for Silence (Kate Burkholder #2) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: June 22, 2010

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The Plank family moved from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to join the small Amish community of Painters Mill less than a year ago and seemed the model of the Plain Life—until on a cold October night, the entire family of seven was found slaughtered on their farm. Police Chief Kate Burkholder and her small force have few clues, no motive, and no suspect. Formerly Amish herself, Kate is no stranger to the secrets the Amish keep from the English—and each other—but this crime is horribly out of the ordinary.

State agent John Tomasetti arrives on the scene to assist. He and Kate worked together on a previous case during which they began a volatile relationship. They soon realize the disturbing details of this case will test their emotional limits and force them to face demons from their own troubled pasts—and for Kate, a personal connection that is particularly hard to bear.

When she discovers a diary that belonged to one of the teenaged daughters, Kate is shocked to learn the girl kept some very dark secrets and may have been living a lurid double life. Who is the charismatic stranger who stole the young Amish girl’s heart? Could the brother—a man with a violent past, rejected and shunned by his family and the Amish community, have come to seek out revenge? As Kate’s outrage grows so does her resolve to find the killer and bring him to justice—even if it means putting herself in the line of fire.

Review –

Another great read/listen in the Kate Burkholder series. In this one, the second in the series, we learn more about Kate’s background and her demons and also the baggage John Tomasetti carries within him. They have a strong chemistry but also act like opposing magnets. Neither wants to “need” another person in their life, when in reality it is exactly what they need.

The murders in this book were very gruesome and some were described in detail so if blood and guts bother you steer clear of this one. If you’re not the squeamish type give this book a try. 

 

Sworn to Silence (Kate Burkholder #1) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: June 23, 2009

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When a serial killer strikes bucolic Painters Mill, Ohio, the killer’s signature -—Roman numerals ritualistically carved into each victim’s abdomen- —matches the MO of four unsolved murders from 16 years earlier. Police chief Kate Burkholder, who’s reluctant to dredge up the past, must keep secret that she knows why the old murders stopped. Not satisfied with the case’s progress, local politicos set up a multijurisdictional task force to assist, including a law-enforcement agent battling his own demons. The added scrutiny and the rising body count threaten to push the chief over the edge. Adept at creating characters with depth and nuance, Castillo smoothly integrates their backstories into a well-paced plot that illuminates the divide between the Amish and English worlds.

Review –

Since I enjoyed number eight, Among the Wicked, in this series – I decided to go back and start from the beginning and I’m so glad I did.

In this first book in the series we learn more background on Kate’s reason for leaving the Amish life and her estrangement from her siblings. We also meet her love interest-to-be, John Tomasetti for the first time and learn more of his back story. Both were tormented with a serious past yet they were drawn together during the hunt for the serial killer. 

We also learn the lengths to which people will go to cover up ugly things in their lives and the affect in has on all around them.

I enjoyed this book more than number eight so I will continue with the series.

A great read.

 

Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: July 12,2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called upon by the sheriff’s department in rural, upstate New York to assist on a developing situation that involves a reclusive Amish settlement and the death of a young girl. Unable to penetrate the wall of silence between the Amish and “English” communities, the sheriff asks Kate to travel to New York, pose as an Amish woman, and infiltrate the community.

Kate’s long time love interest, State Agent John Tomasetti, is dead set against her taking on such an unorthodox assignment, knowing she’ll have limited communication – and even less in the way of backup. But Kate can’t turn her back, especially when the rumor mill boils with disturbing accounts of children in danger. She travels to New York where she’s briefed and assumes her new identity as a lone widow seeking a new life.

Kate infiltrates the community and goes deep under cover. In the coming days, she unearths a world built on secrets, a series of shocking crimes, and herself, alone… trapped in a fight for her life.

Review –

This is another new author for me and although this book was number eight in the series; it works well as a stand-alone.

Since I haven’t read or listened to any of the earlier books I’m not sure what tragic event happened in Kate’s life while she was a young Amish girl, but I can guess. Her past has caused her to become the strong woman she is and few books feature strong women a main characters.

The plot was weak in places and dragged a bit here and there but on the whole I enjoyed it and plan to find others in the series.