I gather that Linda Castillo usually writes romantice stories and this is her first crime novel. Well, I am sure the romances bring in the money to pay the bills thus affording her time to write this exciting and well written crime, but I feel that in this new genre she has found her metier. She must be very versatile to be able to switch from one style of writing to another.
Painters Mill is a sleepy rural town where its citizens, both Amish and 'English'live together quite happily. As with the Ice Princess, the germ of this story lies in the past where a series of brutal, unsolved murders shattered the lives of this community. When the killings stopped Painters Mill settled back into its quiet existence until sixteen years later a body of a young woman is found in a snowy field with numerals carved on her abdomen as in the previous deaths. Do we have a new murderer on the loose playing copycat or has the old killer re-emerged?
In this novel, we have the stock characters, the town councilors resenting the fact that the new Chief of Police is Kate Burkholder a former member of the Amish community, a self aggrandising local Sheriff out for re-election and enjoying the publicity this series of new murders brings, and then the maverick detective from out of town who is foisted on Kate. He is a widower, burnt out after his family were murdered and he went to seek revenge, on the brink of alcoholism and on his last chance mission.
The usual mix, but it works. It is a bit Grisham like in that every car is 'gunned' away from the kerb and phone numbers are 'punched' in and there are a fair few cliched sentences. However, it is exciting stuff and as the bodies pile up and the reader starts working out who could have done it, the momentum doesn't stop until an exciting, incredibly filmic denouement.