I'll admit: I'm not an avid reader of murder mysteries, although I tap into one now and again. I picked up this particular book based on my interest in it's setting - Painters Mill, OH - a small, rural town set in the real-life landscape of mid-Ohio Amish country, a place not too far from my own small farm in Ohio. I was curious about the descriptions I might find about the daily lives of Amish folks.
First Criticism: This book is not a pleasant read about rural country life, flouncy skirts, pink cheeks, buggies and farms. It is not a book that provides a quick peek into the private lives of the Amish. The Amish lifestyle, and the people who associate as Amish, are not examined in any depth at all...plain and simple, this is a story about a Serial Killer and a cop who once-was-Amish. It is a murder mystery so graphic and horrific in parts that I began to hesitate to continue reading it. After the first murder scene I read through, I woke up with nightmares. Squeamish reader beware. However, the good news is you can easily skim over those sections and not miss a beat of the book, which is what I quickly learned to do.
Also, I had some trouble swallowing the basic premise, or backdrop of the story. A young girl now under a "bann" from the Amish, who has long since shucked off her bonnet and skirts for a badge..she is now a well-liked, albeit cursing and boozing Chief of Police, with a past laden with hard secrets....AND she coincidentally now presides in the same town that she was raised in - AND there just happens to be a serial killer on the loose...AND her own secrets just happen to align in a mysterious way with the serial killer. I find the application of any one of these elements hard to swallow, much less all of them - this heroine character and events are so unlikely to occur in a small, rural Amish town in Ohio that it borders on fantasy. All that said, if you can rise above the implausibility and the gorey yuck, you will be glad you did - it is a small price to pay for the engaging and compelling story that follows.
And that's the beauty of this book, or any book. A book can live in a place where few rules apply - it is a story, and Linda Castillo reserves the right to make it interesting. Her crafty skill at story telling and character development make me want to believe the unbelievable.
And I do believe this book is now in the works to be a movie. If I'm assured that I can cover my eyes during the murderous scenes and prolonged, slow panning of dead bodies, which I luckily will know in advance are coming since I read the book - count me in!
This review was submitted by Linda - Linda is a busy professional and part time farmer who lives in the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. In Linda's spare time, she reads a lot of farming and agriculture books, and tries to find novels that weave those themes into them. Linda's current hobby includes collecting old time recipe books, and trying to learn how to bake from scratch again.
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