Pray for Silence (Kate Burkholder #2) by Linda Castillo

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.


#PrayForSilence #KateBurkholderSeries


#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.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo (Kate Burkholder #10)

EXCERPT: She didn’t sleep. Hadn’t slept through the night in a long time. There was too much darkness, not the kind that was restful. At dawn, when her mamm peeked into her bedroom and told her it was time to feed the animals and get ready for worship, she was already awake, waiting. Ready.

Ever the obedient daughter, she pulled on her dress, tugged her hair into a bun, and covered her head with her kapp. Stepping into her winter tights and sneakers, she left her room and took the steps down to the living room. She avoided the kitchen where she could hear her mamm clanging breakfast dishes and frying sausage, and went out through the side door and into the cold. The morning was wet and gray, drizzle floating down from a sky the colour of iron. Once in the barn, she tossed hay to the horses, filled their water buckets, dumped scratch into the chicken feeder, and gathered six brown eggs.

She’d never lied to her parents. Not once in all of her seventeen years. But when Mamm told her to get cleaned up for worship, she complained that she’d been sick and throwing up half the night. Mamm wasn’t pleased that she would miss such an important day. But what could she say?

Morning chores complete, she went back to her room and lay down on her bed. She stared at the ceiling and listened to the sounds of the house. The voices of her younger siblings. The scrape of silverware against plates. The silence while the gebet nach dem essen or prayer after meal was recited. The slamming of the door when her datt went out to harness the buggy horse. The pound of feet on the wood floor when the little ones went out to help.

Oh, how she would miss them.

ABOUT ‘A GATHERING OF SECRETS’: When a historic barn burns to the ground in the middle of the night, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called in to investigate. At first, it looks like an accident, but when the body of eighteen-year-old Daniel Gingerich is found inside—burned alive—Kate suspects murder. Who would want a well-liked, hardworking young Amish man dead?

Kate delves into the investigation only to find herself stonewalled by the community to which she once belonged. Is their silence a result of the Amish tenet of separation? Or is this peaceful and deeply religious community conspiring to hide a truth no one wants to talk about? Kate doubles down only to discover a plethora of secrets and a chilling series of crimes that shatters everything she thought she knew about her Amish roots—and herself.

As Kate wades through a sea of suspects, she’s confronted by her own violent past and an unthinkable possibility.

MY THOUGHTS: I enjoy this series based around an ex-Amish Chief of Police, Kate Burkholder. This is the tenth of the series, and although they all basically follow the same formula – a crime is committed, usually against an Amish person/family, and Kate has her work cut out for her investigating it as no one wants to talk to her. She endangers her own life in the process, but by combining forces with John Tomasetti, her not so secret lover and agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, she solves the case. As I said, although they basically all follow the same formula, Castillo manages to keep the writing fresh and interesting, with no two cases alike. I have yet to guess the identity of the killer/s before Kate.

There are plenty of twists and turns in this very unusual and heartwrenching case that gets very personal for Kate. While the resolution left me stunned, part of me was also cheering on the perpetrator. It’s one of those moral dilemmas – which was the greater wrong?

Kathleen McInerney does, as always, a wonderful job of narrating A Gathering of Secrets.

I am always eagerly awaiting the release of the next book in the series, and I certainly hope that #11 is not too far away.


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@LindaCastillo11 @MacmillanAudio

#amishfiction #audiobook #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery

THE 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 listened to the audiobook of A Gathering of Secrets written by Linda Castillo, narrated by Kathleen McInerney, and published by Macmillan Audio via Overdrive and Libby. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram, and