Don't worry, you can trust me. I'm not like the others.

Banned In China

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Just finished a really good thriller:  Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo.  The first in a series about a former Amish woman who is the chief of police in a small Ohio town trying to catch a serial killer.  Read it for Booked to Death, the mystery book club I go to at the Newark library.

It has got to be one of the better books like that I've read in some time.  The crimes are incredibly explicit and graphic.  I usually don't like them that graphic, but it seems to work here.

The main character and narrator is an Amish woman (Kate) who is the police chief of this small town in Holmes County, Ohio, with a secondary hero/guy/love interest who is a drunken pill popping BCI agent from Columbus, Ohio.  One of the things that caught my eye was the place names (at least the ones that are real).  Kind of fun, places I spend my work days in.  I guess that people who live in California have the same kind of response to the mysteries coming from there, but it is unusual for one to be set around here.

A lot of spoilers from this point on.

The book was just fun in a creepy way.  It carried me along and I was able to ignore the inaccuracies.  Mainly the jurisdictional issues.  The hero is a town cop, but her people seem to patrol the entire county even though there is a sheriff's department in the book and another character who is the county sheriff (not, it turns out a nice man at all).

"If you accept the set up you accept the bit."  At least according to Johnny Carson, and that is what one has to do to really enjoy the book.  Kate has left the Amish faith because of a horrific incident in her teen age years and ended up as a cop in Columbus.   She then came home for her mother's final illness and was asked to stay and become the chief of police in the small town in the book.  I'd say the woman's history really isn't that hard to believe, a rape and a killing of her rapist and a life time of hiding the story and stumbling into a job.  Her description of the lifestyle of the Amish and their relationship to the surrounding society makes the actions of hiding the killing very believable.   The BCI guy's is a little more difficult to buy into, that of a mafia type murdering his family as pay back.  On the other hand it is nice to see an unapologetic drunken pill popping cop.

The small police force does seem to have nothing but first class officers, something that is shall we say a little bit of exaggeration, but they are nicely drawn.

Kate is the narrator, but there are also different third party points of view.  One third party point of view is limited to the BCI guy and then there is a more omniscient one.  That is the one that starts the book with a description of one of the murders more or less from the point of view of the victim and it is incredible creepy and violent and sad.  I didn't particularly like the climax, but it was certainly handled well.  That might of been the least successful part of the book, but it was still pretty strong.

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