EXCERPT: A massive barn and silo stood in silhouette against the pre-dawn sky. The postcard-perfect farm was the last place Skid expected any trouble. He’d lived in Painters Mill going on four years now. Aside from a few minor infractions – like that time two teenage boys got caught racing their buggies down Main Street – the Amish were damn near perfect citizens. But Skid had been a cop long enough to know there was always an exception to the rule.
He parked behind a buggy, his headlights reflecting off the slow-moving-vehicle sign mounted at the rear. To his right, the house stood in shadows; it didn’t look like anyone was up yet. Turning, he made eye contact with Zimmerman. ‘How did you get in?’
‘The back door is unlocked,’the Amish man said.
Grabbing his Maglite, Skid left the cruiser. He slid his. 38 from its sheath as he started down the sidewalk. Stepping onto the stoop, he banged on the door with his flashlight. ‘This is the Police,’ he called out. ‘Open up.’
That was when he noticed the dark smear on the jamb. He shifted the flashlight beam and squinted. It looked like blood. A handprint. Skin shone the light down on the concrete porch. More blood. Black droplets glittering in the moonlight.
ABOUT ‘PRAY FOR SILENCE’: 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.
MY THOUGHTS: Pray for Silence may be the most shocking, but it is not the strongest, nor the best book in the series. I loved Sworn to Silence, the first book in this series, and I have read many of the later books, and loved them. But with Pray for Silence, it almost felt like the Castillo was trying too hard, trying to shock rather than entertain. Not what I have come to expect from this author. I finished this read feeling somewhat unsettled, and ‘grubby’.
I didn’t particularly like what was happening in the relationship between Kate and Tomasetti either, with both in self-destruction and point-scoring modes. Kate rushes into things blindly, putting herself in danger to prove a point to Tomasetti. We learn very little more about the constant characters, there’s almost zero character development.
The bones of the story are good. Now, this is going to sound strange coming from me – the Queen of ‘dark and gritty’, but this is one story that could have benefited from a slightly gentler touch.
I am pleased that I didn’t read this immediately after ‘Sworn to Silence’. I might not have continued reading what is an otherwise excellent series. Instead I am going to put this down to the second book’ phenomenon and advise other readers not to be put off by it. There is better to come.
I did a read & listen of Pray for Silence. Narrator Kathleen McInerney was, as always, wonderful.
#amishfiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery
THE AUTHOR: Linda Castillo is a New York Times bestselling author. In addition to writing, Castillo’s other passion is horses, particularly her appaloosa George. She lives in Texas with her husband and is currently at work on her next novel.
DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo, published by Macmillan. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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