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4.5 out of 5 stars
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I was lucky enough to get Sworn to Silence, the first book in the series cheap as an Ebook after being rejected on NetGalley for Among the Wicked the latest book in the series. So, all and all it was probably for the best since I did enjoy starting this series from the beginning instead of the latest book.

Police chief Kate Burkholder, ex-Amish, has to stop a vicious killer in this book that may be a copycat or a killer that murdered several women 16 years ago. However, she has personal reasons for believing that it has to be another killer. It doesn't get easier for her when her role as police chief is getting questioned as more people are killed while she is trying to figure out who the killer is. Some local people just don't think she is trying hard enough...

I found the book to be very good, and very different from other crime novels. I like that Kate Burkholder has a history with the Amish community and I liked that she is a complex character with a dark past. Also, this case really brought back bad memories for her. The case also brought agent John Tomasetti into her life as he who was hellbent on wrecking his life and career seems to have finally found someone that can get his life back on track. I quite like the chemistry between them.

The case was interesting, is it the same killer or a copycat? What is really going one and what happened to Kate all those years ago? I did, however, figure out the killer when Tomasetti listed the killer profile, it was actually quite easy to do so I thought and then I just kept on reading to see if I was right, and I was. But, it did not take away the enjoyment of reading the book. I still found the book pretty good, despite not being surprised over the killers identity.

It was a good first book and I'm looking forward to reading more books in the series!
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on 18 September 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Set in a small rural Ohio town with a large Amish community, the brutal and cruel murder of a young woman shocks the community to its very core. It has been sixteen years since the people of Painters Mill had last seen something like this, and it's down to the Chief of Police, Kate Burkholder to try and solve it before the killer strikes again. Unusually, it's not written from the point of view of the cynical, seasoned detective drafted in from the big city to solve the crime, but from the point of view of Kate, a former member of the Amish community under the "bann" who has only been Chief of Police for two years.

As other reviewers have said, it is slightly formulaic and I did feel at first that I would struggle to get past all the "cop talk" but having said that, aren't most crime novels formulaic to some extent, and as Kate is a cop then surely she would talk like a cop? After a page or two I was firmly hooked - the characters are written sympatheically, they are human beings as well as Police Officers, and the pace is quick.

All in all a tight, pacy, well written thriller. I hope to see a lot more of Chief Burkholder in the future.
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VINE VOICEon 3 September 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I LOVED this! I've been just in the mood for thriller / whodunnit type books recently and some of them have been a bit samey. Not so with this book: set in the Amish town of Painters Mill, Ohio, girls start turning up dead in a frighteningly similar way to 4 murders that shocked the town of population 5000 sixteen years ago. Cheif of Police, Kate Burkholder (who grew up Amish and left as a teenager) worries no less than most for a very good reason - she thought she had shot dead the killer when he raped her aged 14.

What I liked about this book was the characters and setting; they're small town cops in a (once) peaceful town shared between the Amish and the "English". Snow rather than grimey streets, silence rather than wailing sirens and noisy cities; it made a refreshing change. That said, the pace never once slackened or drifted.

A huge thumbs up for this book and I can't wait to read the rest of the series when they are out.
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VINE VOICEon 21 October 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I won't reiterate the synopsis - others have got there before me. Unusually for the Daily Mail their quote above is a pretty accurate synthesis of the 'pitch' of this novel - "Think Harrison Ford in the movie Witness and add just a touch of the Coen brothers' Fargo". That's the tone that's being aimed for, and largely the book succeeds in meeting the pitch - and with 30 years distance away from 'Witness' the Amish angle works well in this frame. The heroine - who of course is intended to be the star of a future franchise - ticks all the boxes for a heroine in the genre - tough, resourceful, troubled past. The story ticks all of the boxes too - a decent level of research, a breezy writing style, plenty of suspense, a plot that follows all the tropes and touchstones of the genre.

And this is also the most obviously negative of the book; it's formulaic, the characters are identikit, and it will by no means challenge the reader. Now these are not necessarily bad things - sometimes we all like a bit of formula - there's a reasons why formulas arise, because they're popular, it's a feedback loop. Ditto the identikit characters (and to be fair, if Castillo continues with the character there'll be lots of opportunity to expand her). So you have to ask yourself, do you want something that will challenge you, something new and original for the genre, and something that will keep the most sophisticated reader guessing? Or do you want a good uncomplicated 2-3 hour read that will make a train journey fly by? If it's the latter, you can do a lot worse.
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on 28 January 2011
absolutely fantastic - I couldn't put this one down! I read this one after receiving pray for silence as a present and enjoyed that one so much I purchased another book, (read sworn to silence first as pray for silence refers to things which happened in sworn to silence). Loved both books and am eagerly awaiting breaking silence in June 2011
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on 15 February 2013
I loved every part of this book, from the characters to the plot to the finale.

The running theme is how a lapsed Amish girl adapts to modern day life, still being able to sympathise with the old ways, but moving forward with new technology and new awakenings. Of course she has a secret past (makes for a more involved lead character) which explains how she came to move over to the "English", but this runs parallel (and even overlaps) with the job she is undertaking - solving serial murders in a sleepy backwater town.

I'm now ready for the next in this series and frankly, I cannot wait. Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 27 July 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Kate Burkholder was fourteen when she was attacked in her home and killed a man in self defence. Her Amish family covered up the crime, but the memory of that night has always haunted her, causing her to leave the Amish way of life and become police chief in the small town. When a woman's body is discovered, raped and mutilated, Kate worries that her attacker has come back from the dead...

This is an excellent thriller, with a pacy and compelling story that I just couldn't put down (read it in one night!) The murders are suitably gruesome, and escalate as the story progresses. They are all the more horrific against the backdrop of a quiet Amish community, many of whom cannot understand why they have been forced to become part of the darker side of the outside world. The ending is dramatic and I was surprised to learn the identity of the killer.

Kate Burkholder is an interesting protagonist with a troubled past, and I would certainly read any other books published in this series. Her Amish upbringing creates a multi-faceted character, who is often pained by the separation from her family. The cast of secondary law enforcement are have their own stories, and make interesting supporting characters, in particular the loose cannon Federal Agent assigned to the case.

This is a well written book, which often uses language poetically. I'm not a regular reader of crime fiction, although I love Henning Mankell and Arnaldur Indridasson, and I would recommend this to anyone, whether a fan of the genre or not.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
On it's own, this book is a suspenseful thriller about a deranged, highly intelligent serial killer who literally knows how to cover his tracks. Thrown into this mix is a small town and an Amish community who keep everything to themselves, including murderous secrets and rape, a female Chief of Police with a past and a brooding, emotionally damaged male cop and a group of inexperienced law enforcement officers tracking down said serial killer. The murders are brutal and explicit as are the descriptions of the post-mortems, the pace is fast and the suspense is nicely carried over from chapter to chapter. ANyone who enjoys reading crime and who isnt sensitive to the gruesome descriptions will enjoy this.

As a fan of Tess Gerritsen, I would have to say that whilst I did enjoy this book, I can't help feeling that I've encountered all these characters and plots before in the TG novels. The female investigator with the victim past, the brooding male cop brought in to assist, they start off hating each other but in the end they fall in love. Even the gruesome crimes and the postmortem descriptions have been covered before in Gerritsen novels. So for me it's like reading the rough blueprint of a great story however Gerritsen, for me, will always read like a highly polished, more sophisticated final manuscript.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading crime novels however Tess Gerritsen fans beware - you'll either love or loathe this book.
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VINE VOICEon 29 July 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The story kicks off with a local cop of Painters Mill, (a small Ohio town made up of half Amish and half 'English' residents) stumbling across a gathering of unruly cows that have found their way into the middle of the road. T.J., the police officer, steps out to try and steer the cattle back onto the farm. However while doing so, he comes across the body of a local woman, carved up and frozen in a nearby ditch. Enter our leading lady; Painters Mill Chief of Police, Katy Burkholder, (a strong minded, reformed Amish female cop with demons in her past)to head up the investigation. Throw in some small town politics, a troubled cop sent in from out of town to assist and yes, you've got the makings of a crime novel we've all read before. But Castillo really knows how to build the tension, the story is perfectly paced, never letting the pages stop turning. The characters are all well crafted, believable and their backstories all well explored. The Amish twist throws in something fresh and interesting. Some gruesome crime scenes and a beautifully atmospheric sleepy town being stalked by a killer that seems all to familiar and barraged by relentless snow storms, is the perfect setting.

I've read hundreds of crime novels and it's clear to see that this is a start to a truly compulsive and promising series. Buy your copy now and you certainly won't be disappointed!
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on 29 June 2015
Not for the first time I find myself wishing there were a 3.5* option; but I'll settle for 4* largely due to the unusual setting (for a British reader) amongst the Amish community. There is a genre of crime fiction where inevitably the female police officer / pathologist, with the will they / won't they relationship, walks blindly into a perilous situation that the reader has been warning her against for several chapters. "Don't go into the deserted, isolated house alone after dark during the biggest thunderstorm in living memory" we cry, but to no avail. Nothing will dissuade our heroine. As I've said, the setting held my attention, and getting to know a new protagonist, especially one with a well sketched back story, made this an enjoyable read; I've just finished the sequel, so that says something, I guess. I eventually tired of Tempe Brennan (apologies to Ms Reichs) because she simply wouldn't listen when I warned her of impending danger. I hope Kate Burkholder will be more attentive.
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