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An Evil Heart


An Evil Heart

Set in the small Amish community of Painters Mill, Ohio, AN EVIL HEART is the 15th installment in Linda Castillo’s series featuring Chief of Police Kate Burkholder. In this highly suspenseful entry, Kate may be facing the most gruesome murder she has ever seen.

Aden Karn, a 21-year-old Amish man, is on his way to work when he comes across a figure standing in a ditch. He approaches to see if help is needed, but instead the stranger pulls out a crossbow and shoots him in the chest. While Aden is on the ground and bleeding profusely from the initial wound, the attacker sticks the next bolt between his teeth and fires with a certain kill shot, leaving his body on the road.

"AN EVIL HEART is a tense examination of the dark side of Amish life, showing that evil can exist anywhere and no one is quite as they appear to be."

When Aden is eventually identified from medical records, Kate takes on the unpleasant task of informing his parents. Naturally they are devastated and tell her that Aden was a good boy who was less than a year away from marrying his fiancée, Emily Byler. Kate herself is counting down the days to her own wedding, which serves as an interesting backstory.

Emily sings Aden’s praises, as does his roommate, Wayne Graber, insisting that everyone loved him. Kate then learns that Aden and Wayne recently sold a truck to a garage owner named Vernon Fisher. Vernon was not happy with the vehicle and asked for his initial $600 back. Aden refused, and threats were made, but Vernon denies having anything to do with the murder or even possessing a crossbow.

It is clear that Kate is not getting the full story here, and she doesn’t think this was the work of some random killer. The slaying was particularly brutal and committed with a good amount of hatred behind it. Perhaps Aden had done something during rumspringa, the period when Amish youth experience greater freedom, that caused some bad blood.

Kate involves her fiancé, state agent John Tomasetti, in the investigation. Much to her surprise, a young woman comes forward claiming that Aden did not have a soul and had sexually assaulted her. This is just the tip of the iceberg as more information about who Aden really was starts to surface. With the truth finally beginning to emerge, Kate is now watching as the case blows up on her and becomes extremely dangerous quickly --- putting her nuptials and her life at risk.

AN EVIL HEART is a tense examination of the dark side of Amish life, showing that evil can exist anywhere and no one is quite as they appear to be.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 15, 2023

An Evil Heart
by Linda Castillo

  • Publication Date: May 21, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250342848
  • ISBN-13: 9781250342843