Book Review: Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

Sworn to Silence
Linda Castillo

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program. Early Reviewers get copies of books from publishers in exchange for reading and providing an honest review on LibraryThing.

Castillo presents a thriller mystery when a serial killer re-appears after an absence of sixteen years to start murdering young women in a small town with a large Amish community.

Kate Burkholder has returned to her childhood hometown as the chief of police, bringing a history of growing up Amish and larger city police experience. When a serial killer returns and begins to escalate after an absence of sixteen years, Burkholder is caught between attempting to do her job and trying to deal with her own past. For, we learn, she believes she killed the Slaughterhouse Killer as a young woman, an act that caused her to leave the Amish community and become an outsider to her immediate family. Now, with a burnt out former rogue state officer sent to help out, she has to juggle local politicians, other law enforcement departments, and the unknown of whether the killer is back or if she has a new problem to deal with.

Castillo does an admirable job of setting up a town with believable politics, history and personality. I particularly liked the night dispatcher, whose obsession with current crime scene television shows is treated with a gentle humor and teasing of readers who are similarly interested. Her scenic descriptions are distinct enough to give a clear image, though she makes the ones involving the victims sparse enough to keep the stomach from churning. She provides interesting insight into the Amish community and their behavior towards Kate, showing believe instances where love for family takes precendence over cultural rules.

Tomasetti, the rogue cop in state agency sent to help, was stereotypical–rugged, good looking, has a tragic background. They never send the happily married average looking guy. And of course there was the seeming obligatory romantic angle. I was a little disappointed that two people had to fall into bed together. Yes, traumatic situation and all sparking romance and celebration of life, but it didn’t add anything for me.

Overall, it was well done. I probably should have figured out the killer a little earlier, but I didn’t mind that I hadn’t. And it was nice to see more realistic time lines (something will take 2-3 days to get, etc). Thrillers aren’t a genre I read often, but I recommend Sworn to Silence for someone who likes to watch Bones, CSI, Criminal, etc.

And it’s apparently going to be part of a series, about which I feel ambivalent.

Cross posted to my account on LibraryThing.