Breaking Silence

Title: Breaking Silence (Kate Burkholder #3)

Author: Linda Castillo

Published: June 1, 2011

Category: Mystery – Police Procedural

Rating 3 out of 5

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Purchase: Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

Police Chief Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of a horrific tragedy on a peaceful Amish farm.

The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death—clearly, foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs’ children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?

Having grown up Amish, Kate is determined to bring the killer to justice. Because the other series of attacks are designated hate crimes, the state sends in agent John Tomasetti, with whom Kate has a long and complex relationship. Together, they search for the link between the crimes—and uncover a dark secret at work beneath the placid surface of this idyllic Amish community.

I think I’ve finally figured out what it is about the Kate Burkholder books, including Breaking Silence, that doesn’t work for me, and why I keep listening to them anyway.

The story is told from Kate’s point of view in the first-person present. Now, that does not automatically bother me, but in this case, with this writer and this character it ends up being all about her. It’s a mystery novel, but the focus is on her, her thoughts, how she feels in response to the crime, rather than on the victims or plot. And for her, it’s all so dramatic, everything is “profound,” and this is the first time she’s had to deal with these demons or memories or dark places of her mind. And he’s the first person who’s ever truly understood her. Really, do people use the word “lover” that much in real life? She becomes emotionally involved in the cases, which she constantly states is not a good trait for cops, especially women cops. I’m not sure if would come across as over-blown and repetitive if I were reading the books rather than listening to them, mostly because I could skim past bits, rather than hearing every single sentence.  And she’s at the bar again, even though she “knows she shouldn’t be.”

The romance, if that’s what you would term it, between Kate and Tomasetti does feel real. They both have major issues they’re dealing with and I can understand how they can be both taking it slow emotionally and not physically.

Usually characters draw me into a series, so if Kate annoys me, what is that keeps me coming back to this series, aside from the fact that they’re readily available through the library? I think it has to be the plots. Breaking Silence, like the others, moves quickly. It had a twist that I didn’t see coming and I liked how it was handled. I can’t really say what it was without ruining the story, but Kate figures something major out and has a tough time convincing the sheriff. It might not all be realistic, but the story flows well and is believable. It’s exciting, can be a little graphic, has a nice dash of romance with a sexy, aloof man. It’s a small town setting, with an interesting relationship between the two distinct communities that live there.

Will I listen to the next one? Yes. Will I love it? No.

I do think this would work as a stand-alone, but it’s probably better to read them from the start of the series. You’ll get a fuller feel for the characters and the town that way, I think.

Challenge: WAYR

Kate Burkholder Mysteries

  1. Sworn to Silence
  2. Pray for Silence
  3. Breaking Silence
  4. Gone Missing
  5. Her Last Breath (expected June 2013)