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Sworn to Silence: Kate Burkholder Mysteries    by Linda Castillo order for
Sworn to Silence
by Linda Castillo
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Kate Burkholder is content with her Amish way of life and looking forward to starting a family of her own. When she's attacked and raped by neighbour Daniel Lapp, her safe and simple world explodes into one of terror, pain and dark family secrets. Lapp dies in the ensuing struggle. Unwilling to involve the English in Amish affairs, her father and elder brother dispose of Daniel's body and swear the family to secrecy. Unable to come to terms with the horrific incident, Kate abandons her family, her way of life and her religion and eventually finds a certain degree of contentment as a big city cop.

Sixteen years later, she comes full circle after agreeing to sign on as the Painters Mill police chief. On a cold winter night one of Kate's deputies stumbles on a frozen corpse half buried under a snow drift in an Amish farmer's cow pasture. Forensic examination finds the body ritualistically inscribed with a series of Roman numerals, shocking news that Kate can't quite process. She thought the murders of young women had ended the night she'd killed Daniel Lapp. Had he risen from his grave and started killing again? As the body count rises, Kate's investigative techniques come under scrutiny by the town council and they decide to call in outside sources. Now Kate is forced to work with cynical FBI agent John Tomasetti to track down a cunning and brutal killer who strikes fear and mistrust into the hearts of the close community's citizens - and reawakens anguished nightmares for Kate.

Both Kate and John are outstanding players whose abrasive personalities work well together. Each of them is burdened with multiple flaws that add real depth to the story and will definitely factor in to future instalments - as will their tentative relationship, one neither of them wants despite their unexplainable attraction. Additionally Castillo does a fine job keeping the killer's identity under wraps, leading readers astray as they follow along on Kate's dogged quest to prove that Daniel Lapp still lives. Sworn to Silence is a character rich, uniquely set, tautly paced, often brutal, yet completely riveting first entry of the new Kate Burkholder Mysteries series and is Linda Castillo's breakout book.

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