Can you believe I finished a book in under four days? I'd requested Linda Castillo's PRAY FOR SILENCE from the library, and basically started it almost the moment I'd gotten it home.
Police Chief Kate Burkholder must maintain a professional stance when a family of seven is found heinously murdered on their farm. The details of the slaughter are hard enough to stomach, but the fact that the family was Amish will test Kate's resolve as she begins to wade through the less-than-numerous clues of the crime. Kate grew up Amish, but left the life after a personal tragedy challenged her belief system and faith. Knowing that the Amish community can be some of the friendliest people one's ever met, she also knows that they are among some of the most judgmental people on the planet. The road to solving the murders is going to be a long and arduous one. And as the minutes tick away, so do the chances of her closing the case.
State Agent John Tomasetti is called by Kate to assist, and he's left trying to figure out if Kate wants him there for his professional help, or a personal one. Since they'd closed a case together several months earlier, Kate and John have carried on a relationship that defies a label. Sure, they enjoy sex together, but each know that they are not "couple material". Tomasetti still suffers the nightmares and anxiety attacks brought on by the murder of his own wife and daughters, so Kate knows it's a gamble by bringing him in to help on a case that rings too close to home for him.
Ever since reading SWORN TO SILENCE, I've been hooked and chomping at the bit for PRAY FOR SILENCE. The Kate Burkholder series is definitely shaping up to be one of my favorites. We met all the key players in the first book, but to recap, Kate is formerly Amish and walks a thin line in Painters Mill. The townspeople know her history, or what she allows to remain public, so it's always an interesting mix to maintain the trust of the English (non-Amish) that she'll do her job in an unbiased way and keep the peace. The Amish simply don't trust the English, generally speaking, but they trust an excommunicate even less. Remaining impartial on this case is going to be a tough job, but she's got to do it not only as chief of police, but to see that justice is served for this poor family. On the face of it, the Plank family had no enemies. So how did they wind up the victims of a bloody melee?
Tomasetti has maintained his distance for two months now, but with Kate's call, he's plunged headfirst back into the quagmire of their...relationship. While he'd been making strides to get his personal and professional life back on track, he knows that he's not firing at 100% yet. Despite every reason he shouldn't be attracted the police chief, she's a force to be reckoned with. It becomes obvious to John that this case is more than just that to Kate, so it goes without saying that he'll help in whatever way he can. But he's not prepared to see the more human side of her as the days without catching the murderer start chipping away at her tough exterior, and he's finally allowed a glimpse of just what she'd suffered that forced her to leave the Amish life.
PRAY FOR SILENCE is a perfect example of the way I like my suspense books -- dark, edgy, nail-biting, with enough tension to snap the book spine in half. Linda Castillo, already a fave of mine during her Harlequin days, has worked hard to build the foundation of a series that hopefully will last for several more books. As a former Buckeye, Amish country is familiar to me since my hometown was a hop, skip and a jump away from Sugar Creek, OH. So I have fond memories of visiting the Amish countries. I'm glad I just never had to deal with what poor Kate has gone through. Linda Castillo is spot-on with details, and the characterization is top-notch. That should leave little room for the plot and pace of such a book, right? Wrong -- it's all their in spades, and it goes without saying that PRAY FOR SILENCE is a page-turner destined for the bestseller lists.