Book Review: Fallen by Linda Castillo @LindaCastillo11 @MinotaurBooks

A Kate Burkholder Mystery #13
Linda Castillo
Minotaur Books, July 2021
ISBN 978-1-250-82803-3
International Edition
ISBN 978-1-250-14292-4
US Edition

I’m always eager and excited to receive a new Kate Burkholder novel by Linda Castillo. FALLEN is the title of the latest entry in this acclaimed series and most definitely another winner.

Kate Burkholder is the Chief of Police in Painters Mill, a town with an Amish community. Kate grew up here, the daughter of Amish parents, but left her family to pursue a career in law enforcement, returning to take on the job of Police Chief. She is well respected in town and feels her knowledge of, and connection to, the Amish gives her an added insight.

When the badly beaten body of a young woman is found in a local motel, Kate is called to the scene, shocked to learn that the victim is Rachael Schwartz, a rebellious Amish girl who grew up in Painters Mill, but left her friends and family over fifteen years ago.

Kate remembers Rachael as an out of control teen and from her own experiences can relate to Rachael breaking the bonds of family and leaving to make a life for herself. But why has she returned to Painters Mill? And who would have hated her so much to end her life so viciously?

Kate and her team are up to the challenge. She talks to Rachael’s parents and her best friend, Loretta, hoping to find some clue to explain Rachael’s return, but no-one seems to know she was coming to town. Looking into Rachael’s life since leaving Painters Mill, Kate uncovers a strong feisty character who made a name for herself backing down from nothing and no-one, even writing a tell-all book on her Amish life; a book that had incited anger within the community.

A lead is followed and the tension escalates when a second death shifts the focus. But Kate is more determined than ever to uncover the truth and find the killer.

Rachael was a woman who enjoyed raking up past secrets but only for her own advantage. And as Kate moves closer to the startling truth she finds herself in mortal danger. Will the killer succeed in keeping the secrets of the past under wraps?

Returning to Painters Mill and catching up with Kate, her work colleagues and the man in her life is an added bonus to this thrilling ride.

Linda Castillo doesn’t disappoint…. Pick up a copy of FALLEN. You’ll be glad you did.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, July 2021.

Book Review: Outsider by Linda Castillo @LindaCastillo11 @MinotaurBooks

A Kate Burkholder Mystery #12
Linda Castillo
Minotaur Books, July 2020
ISBN 978-1-250-14289-4
Hard Cover

This is the 12th Kate Burkholder mystery novel and it’s another winner.

On a snowy winter’s night, Gina Colorosa, a police officer from Columbus, is on the run, pursued by some of her fellow officers.  Gina knew they’d be coming for her and she’d made plans, but she barely escapes with her life.  After several hours of driving she turns off the highway, and soon realizes she isn’t far from Painters Mill where her one time friend Kate Burkholder is Chief of Police.  But the storm intensifies making her quest to reach Kate impossible.  She loses control of her truck and lands in a ditch.

She is rescued by an Amish widower, Adam Lengacher, out for a sleigh ride with his three children. He takes her to his farm and contacts the Police Chief.  Kate arrives and is surprised to see Gina Colorosa, fellow police officer and once her best friend. They had attended the police academy together and after graduating had both been rookie cops in Columbus. They’d parted ways and hadn’t seen each other since.

Kate is more than a little wary at Gina’s unexpected appearance. While Gina explains that some fellow officers are taking bribes, and tampering with evidence, and it is this knowledge that  has put her in danger, Kate isn’t sure Gina is telling her everything.The blizzard rages on dumping more snow and Kate, her own vehicle now stuck in a snowdrift, has no choice but to accept Adam’s hospitality and stay at his farm.

Kate calls her lover and partner, State Agent Tomasetti, and explains what has happened and asks if he can somehow make discreet inquiries and find out whether Gina is telling the truth.

Meanwhile several police officers are indeed searching for Gina.  As they expand their search and ask questions of the locals in Painters Mill they are soon on Gina’s trail.

Kate has a dilemma. She and Gina had been through a lot together, supporting each other during those early days as police rookies. But their friendship had ended on a sour note.  While seeing Gina brings back some good memories, Kate is also aware that, if Gina is in danger, her presence at the Lengacher farm is putting Adam Lengacher and his children at risk.

Kate, with Tomasetti’s help, uncovers more information about the corruption involving the police in Columbus. The storm and snow add another dimension to the tension rising as Gina’s pursuers set in motion their plan to deal with her.

You’ll have to check out this novel if you want to find out just how it ends.  It’s worth the effort.  A great read!

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, August 2020.

Book Review: Shamed by Linda Castillo @LindaCastillo11 @MinotaurBooks

A Kate Burkholder Mystery #11
Linda Castillo
Minotaur Books, July 2019
ISBN 978-1-250-14286-3
Hard Cover

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to an abandoned farm where an Amish grandmother is found brutally murdered and one of her grandchildren is abducted. The search for the missing 7 year old girl becomes a high priority.

I’ve been a fan of this series for some time and enjoy visiting Kate and the people of Painters Mill. Kate grew up in this Amish community but left as a teenager. She is now the Chief of Police and has a strong knowledge and understanding of the Amish people in this small town. Time is of the essence in cases of abducted children but the murderer/kidnapper seems to have vanished into thin air and after talking to the missing child’s family, Kate gets the impression they are keeping secrets.

The investigation takes her to a nearby Amish community but the killer is watching, intent of reaping revenge. Kate has her work cut out trying to piece together the mystery that appears to have a connection to the past, a past no one is willing to reveal. After finding another victim, Kate is attacked but the killer escapes and seems determined to punish those he believes ruined his life.

Linda Castillo continues to write taut suspenseful novels with a protagonist who is compassionate and caring with an inner strength she struggles at times to maintain. Over the ten previous novels I’ve learned a lot about the Amish and Kate Burkholder’s personal history and while each novel can stand alone, I’d highly recommend you start with the first, Sworn to Silence.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, August 2019.

Review: Shamed: A Novel of Suspense by Linda Castillo

Reprinted from Kevin’s Corner
Initially posted on August 15, 2019


Review: Shamed: A Novel of Suspense by Linda Castillo

Kate Burkholder, Chief of Police of Painters Mill, Ohio, is back in Shamed: A Novel of Suspense and dealing with a murder and subsequent nightmare of a missing child. The old Schattenbaum place hasn’t been lived in since the flood of 1969 damn near took everything. Before the flood, as a child, Mary Yolder was out there all the time. She still comes back to wander the abandoned property in order to cut flowers and harvest the walnuts that fall from nearly a dozen trees. These days Mary Yolder is a widow, sixty years old, and grandmother and she keeps the collecting of walnuts tradition going with her grandkids. On this day she is out there with her five year old granddaughter, Annie, and her seven year old sister, Elise.

Long before the day is done, Mary Yolder is dead by the work of an angry and vicious killer and Elise has been taken by that same person. Annie is left behind, badly traumatized, and of little help to Chief Burkholder or to her sister.

A kidnapping is always difficult to deal with, but especially in the Amish community where privacy is highly valued. The family is a respected pillar of the community, but it seems pretty clear as the initial hours pass, that they are keeping secrets. Secrets that may or may not have a role in the horrific crimes that have rocked everyone in the area.

Shamed is the latest in the long running mystery series that began many years ago with Sworn to Silence. The latest read is another solidly good read. It is also one that could be read by readers new to the series as the references to earlier cases are kept to a minimum. For those of us old hands at this great series, author Linda Castillo weaves another tale of mystery and intrigue and does so with all the usual series regulars and a few new folks one is glad to meet. Shamed is another good book in a great series and well worth your time.

For another take on the book, make sure you read Lesa Holstine’s review from July.

Shamed: A Novel of Suspense

Linda Castillo

Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Publishing Group)

July 2019

Hardback (also available in audio and eBook formats)

304 Pages


Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System. My library copy came from the Forest Green Branch.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2019

Book Review: After the Storm by Linda Castillo

After the StormAfter the Storm
A Kate Burkholder Novel #7
Linda Castillo
Minotaur Books, July 2015
ISBN 978-1-250-06156-0

From the publisher—

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.

Linda Castillo has become one of my favorite crime fiction writers largely because of her ability to so seamlessly blend a police procedural with the softer elements I expect to find in a soothing sort of mystery, not quite the coziest of the cozy but reflective of the gentle world I anticipate with the Amish community. Of course, they don’t live in a bubble, completely protected from bad things, but there’s no question their world is usually kinder than my own.

Kate is a lovely character and very complex with her Amish background and her determination to do right by these people while also upholding the law. She’s an intelligent, compassionate police chief but also a strong woman emotionally, not an easy target for those who oppose her, especially the Amish who believe she betrayed their trust when she left their way of life.

When a tornado touches down in the small town of Painters Mill, it leaves a path of destruction but also reveals a crime from the past, a murder that has been hidden for years. Investigating this cold case opens some old and very painful wounds but it also shows us how Kate’s faith in her department has built a solid team. That cohesiveness certainly works in their favor but can’t entirely prepare Kate and the others for the upheaval that is brought about by the discovery of the bones. At the same time, Kate and her lover, John, have their own issues to deal with, as intense as the homicide case.

I’m so comfortable with Kate and John and their small part of the universe and I love Kate’s interactions with the people she serves. After the Storm is one of the strongest entries in the series and I’m already eagerly looking forward to the next book. I just wish Ms. Castillo would write much faster 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2015.

Book Reviews: The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo and In the Blood by Lisa Unger—and a Giveaway!

The Dead Will TellThe Dead Will Tell
A Kate Burkholder Novel #6
Linda Castillo
Minotaur Books, July 2014
ISBN 978-1-250-02957-7

From the publisher—

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 . . . in The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo

An unsolved horrific crime from years ago seems to be connected to a new series of deaths but why? And is it possible the only surviving victim of that long-ago home invasion could be behind the current crimes?

Painters Mill certainly isn’t the kind of town where you’d normally come across crimes as dark as these but Kate Burkholder is determined to bring peace back to the small yet diverse community. If that means stirring up old emotions, so be it; vengeance may be at the heart of everything that’s happening but 35 years is a very long time to wait, isn’t it? Kate’s investigation begins to reveal  more than she could ever have anticipated and, in the end, she’ll be confronted with a murderer who’s as cold-blooded and twisted as she’s ever met.

Kate is a cop I’ve grown to admire more and more mostly because of her intelligence and her compassion but also because her Amish background colors her personality and her ability to do her job. Being police chief is never an easy position to be in but Kate takes it in stride and has truly earned the respect and devotion of her team. The job isn’t everything, though, and her relationship with John Tomasetti keeps her going in those inevitable dark moments.

Tomasetti has his own issues in The Dead Will Tell when he learns that one of the men who allegedly killed his own family has escaped the justice he so richly deserved and watching him and Kate struggle with this was as elemental to the story as Kate’s current investigation. Ms. Castillo is great at coming up with a plot that keeps the reader on edge but it’s her character development that really shines throughout each book. These two have become old friends I want to spend time with and I’ll be looking forward to our next encounter.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2014.

Click here to listen to the first chapter of The Dead Will Tell.


In the Blood UngerIn the Blood
Lisa Unger
Pocket Books, July 2014
ISBN 978-1-4767-0823-2
Mass Market Paperback

From the publisher—

Someone knows Lana’s secret—and he’s dying to tell.

Lana Granger lives a life of lies. She has told so many lies about where she comes from and who she is that the truth is like a cloudy nightmare she can’t quite recall. About to graduate from college and with her trust fund almost tapped out, she takes a job babysitting a troubled boy named Luke. Expelled from schools all over the country, the manipulative young Luke is accustomed to controlling the people in his life. But, in Lana, he may have met his match. Or has Lana met hers?

When Lana’s closest friend, Beck, mysteriously disappears, Lana resumes her lying ways—to friends, to the police, to herself. The police have a lot of questions for Lana when the story about her where-abouts the night Beck disappeared doesn’t jibe with eyewitness accounts. Lana will do anything to hide the truth, but it might not be enough to keep her ominous secrets buried: someone else knows about Lana’s lies. And he’s dying to tell.

The trouble with lies is that they grow exponentially, seeming to take on a life of their own. Lana has lied so much and for so long that getting to the truth might be something like finding one’s way through a maze but the real question must be “Why?” Why does Lana lie and why does she continue to do so when finding her missing friend should make her want to be honest?

The manipulative Luke is one of the more disturbing children I’ve come across, probably because we don’t want to believe that our young can be evil. They can, of course—Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy were seemingly innocent boys at one time—and watching Luke in his determination to know Lana’s secrets is, for lack of a better word, creepy. The true creepiness, though, comes from the anonymous voice we hear alternating with Lana’s.

The unknown can be a truly frightening thing and Lisa Unger is a writer who turns simple thoughts and events into riveting psychological terror. In the Blood is one of her most intense studies of the human mind yet and, as a really good thriller writer will do, she kept me up at night, unable to sleep until that next page was turned…and the next and the next.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2014.


To enter the drawing for a hardcover copy of
The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo and a mass
market paperback of In the Blood by Lisa Unger,
leave a comment below. The winning name will
be drawn Tuesday evening, July 8th.
This drawing is open to residents of
the US and Canada.