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Breaking Silence: Kate Burkholder    by Linda Castillo order for
Breaking Silence
by Linda Castillo
Order:  USA  Can
Macmillan Audio, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Linda Castillo's Breaking Silence is the first Kate Burkholder mystery I have encountered and it's a darn good one. Painters Mill Police Chief Kate Burkholder grew up Amish, but renounced that life after she was raped by a neighbour. After working for sixteen years as a big city cop, she returned to the area where she was born. But Kate still has not fully come to terms with her past and these feelings keep her from visiting her sister to see her new niece.

Kate is happy in her relationship with FBI agent John Tomasetti (first met in Sworn to Silence), though unsure of where it is heading. As Breaking Silence opens, she is called to the scene of a terrible tragedy on the Amish Slabaugh family farm - a husband, wife, and the husband's brother have all died in a manure pit in the barn, overcome by methane gas. At first it seems that one adult fell in and the others were asphyxiated while trying to help, but then questions - and suspects - arise.

Kate feels a strong connection and empathy with the Slabaugh children, whom she is forced to question. Though the Amish want to keep them in their community, the children may be sent to live with an excommunicated uncle, or separated into different foster homes. Kate is especially touched by the smallest boy and by the teen daughter ... When John Tomasetti is sent to look into a recent onslaught of hate crimes against the Amish, he and Kate work - and sleep - together again.

Both hate crime and murder investigations wend and weave their ways through various possibilities as Kate and Tomasetti try to make sense of witness statements and evidence. When they do find answers, they are shocking ones, and Kate is badly hurt by what she has to do to save lives. At the end, readers are left wondering whether two such flawed and damaged characters (Kate by the rape and her drinking problem, and John by the deaths of his wife and daughters at the hands of an ex-con) have a future.

Kathleen McInerney did a fine job narrating the unabridged audiobook (8 CDs in 9.5 hours) and differentiating the characters. My only reservation is the one that I have with most audiobooks - men don't sound right reading female parts and (in this case) women sound off to me reading male parts. But I enjoyed listening to the mystery and found it easy to follow in this medium.

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