Review

Pray for Silence

by Linda Castillo

The Kate Burkholder series by Linda Castillo is set in Holmes
County Ohio’s Amish country. That might sound strange --- one
hears of Pennsylvania Dutch country, but Buckeye Amish country
doesn’t have the same ring to it --- yet there are Amish
communities sprinkled throughout central and northern Ohio. I have
lived in and around these areas for most of my life, so an Amish
buggy traversing a highway overpass is a familiar sight. I mention
this only to establish my street cred, so to speak, in the hopes
that you will believe me when I tell you that the world Castillo
has created in PRAY FOR SILENCE, the second Burkholder novel, is
pitch- and letter-perfect.

Burkholder is the police chief of Painters Mill, the fictional
version of, I would guess, the similarly named Paint in Holmes
County, Ohio. Though Burkholder was born into the Amish community,
a series of violent and tragic events led her to leave the Amish
and thus be subject to meidung, or shunning, by the
community where she is now the police chief. While Burkholder is
thus firmly set in the world of the “English,” her
formative years in the Plain Life stay with her. But her cultures,
old and new, collide violently one October morning when she answers
a call to an Amish farm that is the site of a multiple homicide.
The scene itself is horrific enough, due in part to the fact that
violence --- indeed, crime of any kind --- is a rarity within the
pacifistic and law-abiding Amish community, but primarily because
the victims are seven members of an Amish family murdered
execution-style on their quiet dairy farm.

Castillo’s description of the untimely deaths visited upon
these innocent people is not gratuitous, though it does not flinch
away, so that the revulsion and outrage that Burkholder feels will
not be lost upon the reader. While the family in question was new
to the area, and thus unknown to Burkholder, she begins to feel a
tentative, beyond-the-grave kinship with one of the family’s
murdered teenaged daughters. This grows when she discovers the
girl’s diary, which documents a relationship with an older
man in the English community, a relationship that the young woman
mistook for love and eventually became abusive and exploitive, no
doubt leading to her death as well as those of her family members.
Remembering her own troubled past, Burkholder becomes obsessed with
finding the killer.

Ohio BCI Agent John Tomasetti, Burkholder’s love interest
from 2009’s SWORN TO SILENCE, is there to help,
notwithstanding his own problems that on some levels only seem to
increase as the novel progresses. An explosive discovery takes the
story even deeper into the darkness of evil. While a satisfactory
resolution is ultimately obtained (even though not every question
is answered), a statement by Burkholder at the book’s
conclusion resonates: “There’s not enough good in the
world.” Indeed.

PRAY FOR SILENCE is starkly, darkly and beautifully told, a
cautionary tale of evil that will cause you to think twice before
you let your children out of your sight or open your door to
strangers. Not for the squeamish, but recommended nonetheless.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 19, 2011

Pray for Silence
by Linda Castillo

  • Publication Date: June 22, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312374984
  • ISBN-13: 9780312374983