Welcome! This week’s Friday56 and Book Beginnings on Fridays’ choice is…
Happy Friday !
I can’t wait to visit your blogs to find out. Have a great weekend.
May your books be with you!
Luv Sassy X
Outsider by Linda Castillo is a captivating mystery/thriller about a woman on the run, hiding among the Amish. The author is one of today’s best mystery writers, like a fine wine with each book better than the past one. It is somewhat of a story of opposites and how they co-exist. There is the Amish and “English,” bad cops versus good cops, the main character Kate who is careful and guarded, contrasted with her friend who is impulsive and reckless.
The book opens with Amish widower Adam Lengacher, while riding a sleigh with his three small children, finding a crashed car. Nearby he finds a woman with a gunshot wound who is asking for Kate Burkholder. He takes her to his farmhouse where Kate meets him. She realizes that the woman, Gina Colorosa is an estranged friend who met and rescued Kate years ago shortly after she left the Amish community. They went through the police academy together and worked for the Columbus police department until Kate questioned Gina’s behavior. Now a decade later, Kate has become the police chief of Painter’s Mill.
Kate finds out that Gina is being pursued by crooked and corrupt cops. Gina tells how she is being framed because she was the cause of a quiet investigation on them, currently in progress. Now Kate, with the help of her lover, John Tomasetti, working for the Ohio Bureau of Investigation, must unravel the lies from the truth. Is Gina innocent, guilty, or somewhere in between? Should she turn in this woman she considered a sister, or help hide and protect her?
To make matters worse, which ramps up the tension, is a blizzard that keeps everyone stranded at the farmhouse, basically isolated from the outside world. The only way to travel is by sled. Readers feel they are trapped with the characters; yet, they are able to get a portrait of Amish daily life. The scene with the calf is not only informative, but it is a welcome release of the tension.
As with every Kate Burkholder book, readers become disappointed when they are finished because they must wait a whole year until the next one. The author is an expert on using the weather, Amish life, and a crime to build the suspense. In the midst of all the retirements among police officers today people have to hope Kate never retires.
Elise Cooper: Gina, Kate’s estranged police friend, is a very complex character, but one I enjoyed?
Linda Castillo: Some readers really loved her and some did not. I did like her and thought she was a fun character to write. She was actually mentioned in the very first book, but in passing. She was the one who taught Kate not to be Amish. I also hope readers enjoyed the moral questions that came up. Kate wants to trust Gina to do the right thing. Because the bad cops used intimidation, manipulation, and are so arrogant they had power. They never thought they could get caught.
EC: How would you describe Gina?
LC: She is an ambiguous character. Generally speaking she has a good heart. Overall, a thrill seeker, an adventurer, charming, fearless, and rough around the edges. Even though she got in with the wrong crowd I do think she is a redeeming character who at the end wanted to make things right. She has a conscience. Because of her imperfections she was filled with regret, shame, and grief, and did realize she had some issues she must atone for.
EC: With everything going on today it was interesting how you presented the police. They were not just a category/unit, but human beings who make up that unit?
LC: I wrote this book a while back before all this happened with the police had come to light. I am a crime buff and have read real-life cases. Every police officer is an individual. The Columbus police force did get into trouble. Also, a scene in the book was inspired by what happened in the Houston police force. I wanted to show how nobody is perfect and, in every profession, there are bad guys and good guys.
EC: You also delve a little into the issue of no-knock warrants?
LC: There have been some disastrous ones. Just imagine all the kinds of things that can go wrong. The home owner does not know who is bursting into their home. What if they had a gun and the police have guns? It is dangerous for everyone involved. I wanted to explore what happens when the police intelligence is wrong or if the police have an ulterior motive.
EC: You point out that the Amish way is to help people?
LC: They do help those in need. The spirit of it is what I put in words, even if I did take literary license. I had a childhood friend whose house burnt down. She had Amish neighbors and lived in close proximity to an Amish community. She did not ask for help, but they rebuilt the home’s frame. Another incident was after a hurricane when a group of Amish men rebuilt people’s roofs. I admire this about the Amish.
EC: Why do you think readers enjoy Amish books-going back to frontier life sort of speak?
LC: It is a mysterious culture. The basically stay separate from the rest of the world. People want to learn more about them. What is their background history, why do they dress the way they do, why use buggies, and why don’t they use electricity? It is almost like visiting history, but there are still the problems of modern day.
EC: Weather plays a role?
LC: I have a weakness for writing about bad weather. It adds such an ominous factor to the story. Blizzards always make life more difficult, but for the Amish it is even harder. Growing up in Ohio, I have experienced plenty of blizzards. During the 1979 blizzard the only way to get around was with a snowmobile. I remember how my mom’s boss brought her home on a sleigh.
EC: In every book you put in something about Amish life?
LC: I want readers in this one to get to know the Amish family and how Kate’s past relationship with Gina affected her. In this book I wrote how the belief system of the Amish is passive. I wanted to explore if the feeling to protect their children is greater than their religious belief pacifist society. For instance, what Kate did to protect herself as a child surpassed her religious beliefs.
EC: Did you ever fire a long gun that reminded me of a revolutionary rifle?
LC: Many Amish still use the loader long gun that has been passed down from generation to generation. I did have to figure out how they worked. I personally have never fired one and did a lot of research on the steps needed. Having fired rifles in the past, it helped along with looking online and speaking with people.
EC: With the Corona-19 virus do you miss going out on book tours?
LC: Since my first book tour when I was very nervous, I have found them to be such wonderful events. I get to know book sellers, librarians, and book readers. I was really sad to see the tour cancelled this year, but I understand completely. I do miss seeing all those people.
EC: What about your next book?
LC: You are the first person I am telling the title, Fallen. It is more of a murder mystery than this one, which was more of a thriller. The plot has a former Amish girl getting killed. It will be out next July.
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