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Fallen by Linda Castillo brings back the wonderful character, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder. Fans of this series are never disappointed with these amazing stories, and this novel is no different.
The plot begins with a young woman brutally murdered at a Painter’s Mill motel. Called to investigate, Police Chief Kate Burkholder realizes she knew the victim, Rachel Schwartz. She and Kate had some things in common, not really fitting into the Amish community when they were young women.
This story allows readers to get a further glimpse into Kate’s life before she left the Amish community. There is a mixture of old Amish traditions with the changing values of some. People are led to understand why Kate and Rachel felt the need to join the “English community.” As a child, Rachael was a rowdy rulebreaker whose decision to leave devastated her parents and best friend, Loretta. As an adult, she continued to be a rabble-rouser, not caring who she hurt to succeed in life. Her no-holds-barred lifestyle earned her a lot of enemies, both English and Amish.
Through Kate’s investigations people learn of frequent explanations for why officers think and act in a certain way. Kate realizes someone doesn’t want Rachael’s past, or the mysteries she took with her to the grave, coming to light. As Kate digs deeper, violence strikes again, this time literally hitting close to home as Kate is put through the ringer, having to fight for her own life.
With A Simple Murder, readers are treated to another Linda Castillo book, out this year. These six short stories feature Kate Burkholder and her partner in crime (and the bedroom) John Tomasetti. The stories are not as complex, dark, or gritty as the novels. There are crimes of greed, jealousy and passion. Even with short stories, Castillo has a knack for pulling readers into the story by weaving in a fascinating plot line with interesting characters, highlighting Kate Burkholder’s abilities as the police chief of Painters Hill.
The stories’ plots:
Long Lost has Kate and her lover John Tomasetti on vacation when they are asked to investigate a girl who just disappeared years ago.
A Hidden Secret has a baby abandoned on a Bishop’s doorstep. The infant was left with some items which led Kate to believe that the mother might be Amish. Kate and John are determined to find the mother.
Seeds of Deception explores Kate’s Amish past. She wonders who burnt a barn, and were her friends involved.
Only The Lucky delves into the rager parties with drugs, alcohol, and music. When one of the Amish girls attending the rager is attacked and left for dead, Kate has to find out who wanted to hurt this young woman.
In Dark Company Kate must find the person who tried to kill a woman. The problem is the victim has amnesia and Kate wonders if she is hiding anything or is truly a victim.
In Plain Sight a teenage Amish boy, Noah Kline, is seriously injured by what appeared to be a hit and run. But Kate discovers there were some who had motives to injure Noah because he was dating an English girl.
The Interview :
Elise Cooper: With both Fallen and A Simple Murder you have twists and turns.
Linda Castillo: It is satisfying as a mystery writer to lead the reader down a slightly wrong path whether in the short stories or the novel. But I also leave subtle clues to be fair.
EC: In Fallen, there are more glimpses of Kate’s past?
LC: I am always thinking of Kate’s past. Last year’s book, Outsider, delved into her years before she became Police Chief in Ohio. This book gives glimpses of Kate shortly before she left the Amish community.
EC: How would you describe the victim, Rachel?
LC: Kate knew Rachel as a child since she sometimes babysat her. Rachel was a rebel rouser from the time she was two years old, and it got worse from there. Kate realizes as a child Rachel was a ‘pistol” type personality. In some ways she could be loveable, while in other ways she was maddening and disrespectful. As she became an adult Rachel did really bad things. She had aspects of a sociopath without much of a conscience. She was a rule breaker, risk taker, could not identify boundaries, and stepped over the line. But even with all that, Kate felt Rachel deserved justice and did not deserve to be bludgeoned to death.
EC: How would you describe Rachel’s friend Loretta?
LC: She was always Rachel’s best friend. A rule follower, the polar opposite of Rachel, because she always wanted to do the right thing. She was very protective of Rachel and never abandoned her even when Rachel had “Fallen” from the graces of the Amish community. She always knew there was some good buried inside Rachel.
EC: Rachel wrote a tell all book about the Amish community. Did that ever really happen?
LC: There were actual books, which I have read. The authors were disgruntled so they wrote a book. Rachel made a lot of enemies with her book, because there were people in Painters Mill who did not want things to come to light, including Kate’s brother.
EC: What is the Amish rager?
LC: A rager was a huge outdoor party, held in a barn or field, without adults. There was music, alcohol, and sometimes the English showed up. The gathering had a lot of rule breaking before the Amish were baptized, many on rumspringa. I wrote about it in one of the short stories and in this novel. I knew about it because I was sent an article that said the sheriff had to arrest 74 Amish teenagers. Because Amish teens are pretty well behaved and had led protective lives some act out during rumspringa.
EC: Did you base anything on the Killbuck clan, considered to be Hutterites?
LC: It is loosely based on a clan in Ohio. In 2013, there was an incident in which Amish religious symbols were violated. Once a woman gets married, she no longer cuts her hair, and the husband does not shave his beard. A bishop directed his followers to forcibly cut the hair and beards of other members of the Amish faith. Prosecutors actually charged sixteen with a hate crime. In this novel, I just took it a step further, fictionalized it, and made them cult-like.
EC: Kate had some similar qualities to young Rachel?
LC: Both did not follow the rules although Kate knew boundaries. Kate did see parallels between the two of them. They got in trouble and did not respect many of the Amish norms. In some way they were kindred spirits with spunk since both drank and smoked.
EC: In A Simple Murder readers get an understanding of the Kate and John relationship?
LC: Kate’s biological clock is ticking since she is in her mid-thirties. The wonderful thing about fiction is that the characters do not have to age. It has been satisfying as a writer to see John Tomesetti heal. After he bought the farm and barn and fixed it up, he knew he was going to spend the rest of his life with Kate. They are going to stay together and at some point, will get married.
EC: A Simple Murder is a compilation of short stories?
LC: Yes. They were previously released in e-format. These stories are not as dark, a little lighter, more fun, and not quite so heavy. My goal was to try to capture the setting, characters, and keep the mystery straight forward.
EC: When will your next short story be released?
LC: It will be probably released before my next book Hidden.
EC: What about your next book?
LC: Hidden will be out this time next year. The setting is in Kish Valley in the middle part of Pennsylvania. Kate was asked by three elders from that area to investigate a Cold Case where a Bishop’s remains are found after eighteen years.
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Friday 56% from A Simple Murder by Linda Castillo
And try not to get our asses shot off.A Simple Murder by Linda Castillo — Kindle 56%