Kate Burkholder, 33, has been the Chief of Police in small Painters Mill, Ohio for three years. She spends a lot of time corralling cows and teenagers, because the Amish in this community pretty much police their own. The one exception is the time of “Rumspringa,” when Amish adolescents are allowed to sow some wild oats before they choose either to become baptized in the Amish church or to leave the community. As it happens, Kate is one of those young people who left, after a traumatic incident that occurred when she was fourteen.
Kate’s Amish background comes in handy; she is fluent in Pennsylvania Dutch, and her knowledge of “the plain life” helps her bridge the gap between “Englishers” and Amish when issues arise for which the police must be summoned. Thus, when some Amish teens have gone missing from nearby towns, Kate is called upon for consultation by John Tomasetti, an agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification in Cleveland. She and Tomasetti met a year and a half earlier, and they became something more than just colleagues and friends. But they each have relationship fears, as well as dark places inside that they each keep shuttered up. As a result, there is both an attraction and a tension between them when they are together.
The discovery of additional missing Amish teens is coupled with the need to find out what they might have in common; who might be targeting them; and the need for haste, since no one knows whether these young people are dead or alive. The increasing danger brings Kate and Tomasetti closer once again, and builds up to a pretty hair-raising ending.
Evaluation: Although this is the fourth book in the Kate Burkholder police procedural series, it is the first that I have read. Nevertheless, I had no problems; Castillo did a fine job of seamlessly supplying antecedent circumstances. I enjoyed all the background on the Amish community and I really liked the complexity of the relationship between Kate and Tomasetti. The thrilling finish seemed more realistic to me than most such scenes, even if the premise behind it felt a bit over the top (or at least, I hope it is over the top!)
Published by Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan, 2012