January 23, 2010
Sworn to Silence
Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo
2009 Minotaur Books
Finished on 1/16/09
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)
Sixteen years ago, a series of brutal murders shattered the peaceful farming community of Painters Mill, Ohio. A young Amish girl, Katie Burkholder, survived the terror of the Slaughterhouse Murders. In the aftermath of the killings, the town was left with a sense of fragility, a loss of innocence, and for Katie, the realization that she no longer belonged with the Amish.
Now, a wealth of experience later, Kate Burkholder is back. Her Amish roots and big city law enforcement background make her the perfect candidate for Chief of Police. She's certain she's come to terms with her past--until the first body is discovered in a snowy field.
Kate vows to stop the killer before he strikes again. But to name him, she would betray both her family and her Amish past—and expose a dark secret that could destroy her.
Sworn to Silence was my book club's selection for January. My husband read it last summer and said it was very good, so I was excited to finally have a reason to give it a read.
I'm beginning to wonder if I'm cut out for thrillers. Like Cody McFadyen, Castillo taps into the psyche of a serial killer and creates brutally intense scenes involving the victims. I'm talking a 10 on the cringe meter! By the time I got to the third murder, I found myself putting the book down well before bedtime, as I had started to have dreams involving the characters. (And it wasn't just me. Other book club members mentioned that they did, too!) I originally felt that the visceral details were a bit gratuitous, but one of the women in my book club said she thought the killer was losing control, resulting in an acceleration of brutality, and that the violence was not at all a contrivance on the part of the author. This is what I love about my book group! It's great to get other readers' insights (and clarification) to the books I read. And, yes, I had to agree with her. It made complete sense once it was pointed out to me.
But knowing that doesn't change my view toward books about serial killers. I can only take so much graphic detail of the crimes. I think the main reason I continue to read Cody McFadyen (and, for that matter, John Sandford) is the incredible development of the main character. With Sandford, it's less about the murder and more about Lucas Davenport and his pals. With McFadyen, it's more about Smokey and her friends and family than the violent killings. That said, I like Kate Burkholder and am curious to see what Castillo has in store for her and her team in this new Amish crime series. And it looks like I won't have a long wait. The next in the series, Pray for Silence, is due out in June. I may have to learn to skim the gory details.
Final thoughts: Beach read! This is one to borrow from the library. I'm not compelled to read it a second time, so no reason to own it.
Oh, and I never figured out who the killer was. As always, I suspected everyone! :) If you're curious to know which actor I envision as the killer, let me know and I'll email you. I'm afraid if I name him here, I'll spoil the mystery for those of you who haven't had a chance to read the book.
See what other bloggers have said about the book:
In general, the plot follows a typical formula for thrillers, but does a great job in setting up the series. I'm thrilled to have found this new-to-me author at the beginning of it. I'm interested in the Amish culture, so the contrast with police encounters is intriguing to me. (Joy of Thoughts of Joy)
This is the first in a planned series and I can say I’m definitely going to be watching for the next book. I liked the character of Kate despite her flaws and issues. The other characters were interesting and it will be interesting to see how they’re developed in the next book. (SuziQ of Whimpulsive)
If you can go way back in your memory to James Patterson's early Alex Cross books, you will understand the pleasure of reading Linda Castillo's debut thriller, Sworn to Silence. The excitement, the fast pace, and the serial killer reminds me of the best of early Patterson. (Lesa of Lesa's Book Critiques)