Sunday Burgs book review
Reviewed by Sallye Kennedy. She is a library services specialist at the Christiansburg Library.
Sometimes when you read books you can’t wait to get to the end and see what happens, but occasionally a book captivates you to the point that you don’t want it to end. That is the feeling with Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series. The fourth book in the Amish thriller series, “Gone Missing,” continues Chief of Police Kate Burkholder’s investigations of crimes in Painters Mill as well as surrounding Amish communities. Castillo’s research is shown by her accurate portrayal of the Amish way of life and by her ability to vividly describe the surrounding countryside. The sharp contrast between the tranquil setting and brutal crimes grip the reader.
“Gone Missing” is the first book in the series without “silence” in the title, whether that has significance or not remains to be seen. Local teens have disappeared from several nearby counties and a presumed runaway ends up dead. Fear spreads through the unique, and normally peaceful, Amish communities whose members follow a code of silence when outsiders are involved. Kate has a chance to further explore her budding relationship with Ohio Criminal Bureau of Investigation agent, John Tomasetti, and use her knowledge of the Amish Pennsylvania Dutch community when called in to aid the investigations.
Kate had been a member of the Amish community, but is now shunned because she chose to leave her Amish faith due to crimes committed against her as a young girl. This secret affects her deeply and aids her ability to understand and talk to the families of the missing teenagers. The investigation uncovers other crimes which may link to unsolved disappearance cases that have accumulated over the years. Many suspects emerge, including a photographer whose pictures of young Amish girls could be seen as either art or pornography and a church whose members attempt to lure young teens from their faith – could their actions be hate crimes against the Amish community’s different way of life?
Kate is called in to consult about the crimes because of her Amish heritage, but the crimes hit close to her heart and home when the niece of her sister’s husband doesn’t return one evening. Kate had witnessed the niece experiencing Rumspringa, a time for Amish teens to explore life without rules, when the niece was seen fighting, wearing makeup and outsider clothing. Could the disappearances be related to Rumspringa, or is something more sinister involved?
Castillo’s characters have many flaws but also show great strength when doing their jobs and when attempting to build a personal relationship with each other. For example, after agent Tomasetti’s wife and two daughters were murdered, he turned to alcohol and almost lost his career. But he and Kate establish a good working connection with each other and search for something more. Kate’s perseverance and remarkable courage shine as she searches for a teenager who is so like herself at that age. Her Amish roots and upbringing emerge with her feelings for this carefree young girl who welcomes the opportunity to search for herself before committing to the church.
As Kate and Tomasetti work to solve the crime, they discover secrets so deeply buried and evil it may be too late to save anyone.
The Kate Burkholder series is well done, as “Gone Missing” proves again. The first book, “Sworn to Silence,” is being made into a Lifetime movie with Neve Campbell as Kate. The books can be read in order for character development, but it isn’t necessary. However, once you begin reading these thrillers, you won’t want to miss any and Castillo is already working on her fifth book, which will explore more of Chief Kate Burkholder’s childhood.
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