Sworn to Silence is the first book in Linda Castillo’s mystery series featuring Kate Burkholder, Chief of Police in Painter’s Mill, Ohio. Painter’s Mill is a small town where modern day America coexists with the world of the Amish, who adhere strictly to the plain-living tenets of their faith.
Kate grew up Amish before leaving the community after her Rumspringa, the time teenagers are given to choose whether or not to remain in the church. Her experience of both cultures makes her uniquely qualified to work with both groups of citizens, and her eight tough years as a city cop allow her to truly appreciate the peaceful community she loved as a child. But the truth is, way back when, she gave up her family, her church, and her whole way of life for a reason. And that traumatic event is no longer safely buried in the past. The Slaughterhouse Killer seems to be killing again, and only Kate and her brother and sister know why that’s impossible.
Two things make this series stand out—the setting, with its portrayal of Amish life and beliefs—and Kate herself, who carries out her duties as Chief of Police with independence, intelligence, and confidence. The gritty contrasts between our romanticized expectation of what the Amish ‘simple life’ means versus Castillo’s more realistic portrayal, plus the darkness of the crimes, give the books a stark tone, softened by the characterizations and the inevitable difficult love story subplot.
Weaknesses include an occasional jarring cliché, and a really annoying neglect to give names to the murdered daughters of Kate’s love interest, who are mentioned over and over and over again in their father’s thoughts as “the girls.” But judge for yourself—this series is well worth a try. The books are all in our catalog, or if you prefer audio, the first two are available from Library2Go.
Sworn to Silence
Pray for Silence
Her Last Breath