AUTHOR: Linda Castillo
RELEASE DATE: July 11, 2017
Available @ AMAZON
REVIEWER: Pistol Annie
RATING: 5 Stars
In this electrifying new thriller in the New York Times bestselling series, a convicted murderer is on the run and Chief of Police Kate Burkholder must catch him before he strikes again.
Two years ago, Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. He was a “fallen” Amish man and a known drug user with a violent temper. Now King has escaped, and he’s headed for Painters Mill.
News of a murderer on the loose travels like wildfire, putting Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her team of officers on edge. But this is personal for Kate. She grew up with Joseph King. As a thirteen year old Amish girl, she’d worshipped the ground he walked on. She never could have imagined the nightmare scenario that becomes reality when King shows up with a gun and takes his five children hostage at their Amish uncle’s farm. Armed and desperate, he has nothing left to lose.
Fearing for the safety of the children, Kate makes contact with King only to find herself trapped with a killer. Or is he? All King asks of her is to help him prove his innocence―and he releases her unharmed. Kate is skeptical, but when the facts and the evidence don’t align, she begins to wonder who she should trust. Spurned by some of her fellow cops, she embarks on her own investigation only to unearth an unspeakable secret―and someone who is willing to commit murder to keep it buried.
(NOTE: Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC of Linda Castillo’s latest release in the terrific Kate Burkholder Series.)
It’s the lingering sense of injustice that grates on my cop’s sensibilities.
— Sheriff Kate Burkholder, Down A Dark Road
Once again, suspense and murder strikes Painters Mill, Ohio. And this reader couldn’t be more excited! I fell in love with this series from the first book. Now it’s one of my very favorites. No need to worry if you haven’t read the previous books in this extraordinary series. The author eases you into the story with enough background so that you’ll never feel lost or unable to follow the storyline. Each book easily stands on its own.
Kate’s a bit of a mystery herself. Growing up Amish, she left that lifestyle at eighteen venturing into city life. Returning to her hometown years later, she’s now the town’s Chief of Police. In the 9th installment of the Kate Burkholder Series, Kate takes another step back into her past as a young girl growing up in the Amish countryside. Although raised Amish, Sheriff Burkholder is now largely shunned by both family and former friends in the Amish community. As she struggles to separate her past from the present, more layers of Kate’s life are unraveled, and readers gain a bit more understanding of the complex character she represents.
Joseph King lived next door to Kate growing up, and he was both a playmate and her first real crush on a boy. When his father was killed in an accident, Joseph’s life and personality took a turn for the worse. After Joseph was tried and convicted of murdering his wife, Naomi, he was sent to prison for life two years ago, and their children returned to Painters Mill to live with Naomi’s sister, Rebecca and her husband, Daniel Beachy.
Flash forward to present day and that same boy is now a man on the run – a prison escapee. He claims he’s innocent of the charge, and takes Kate and his five children hostage pleading with her at gunpoint to help prove his innocence. Kate begins to question whether Joseph might be telling her the truth. She agrees to help him by taking another look at the case. But before Kate has a chance to even begin her search for answers, Joseph is tragically shot and killed by a police sniper in front of his five children.
Unlike others in their community, Kate is inclined to believe the little girl’s story about a strange man who was in their house that night and killed her momma and who almost killed Sadie, too. Sadie King, now 5-years old and smart as a whip, found her mother who had been shot and killed, and tried to tell the policeman that she saw a man who wasn’t her daddy. Because of her age, she was deemed too young to be a credible witness. Because of Joseph’s run-ins with the police on various domestic violence calls, driving his horse-drawn buggy drunk with no lights, and some small drug charges, probably didn’t help his case any either, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife, Naomi.
When a picture surfaces of what looks like Joseph kissing Kate on the night he abducted her and the children, it causes a media storm and Kate ends up on administrative duty. The crime seems so different from her childhood memories of Joseph, and her instincts are telling her something just doesn’t feel right about the initial investigation. So, she proceeds with her own search for answers – which causes friction and danger between herself, the community and law enforcement. Plus, it also uncovers things about Joseph’s past and also provides evidence that may solve a crime.
John Tomasetti, Kate’s lover and an Agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, believes in Kate and lends his support as she throws herself into another difficult case – this one carrying personal ties. These two have an undeniable attraction, and I am so ready for Castillo to delve deeper into their relationship and put a fire under their commitment to each other. Their romance throughout the series has been slow going. There are several romantic encounters between the two here – but mostly this is Kate’s story – one blending her past and present. It’s filled with a compelling walk “Down A Dark Road” where Kate revisits memories and a secret she’s held tightly from her childhood.
Castillo is a master at finely crafting a terrific mystery with multiple twists and turns in a compelling atmosphere. Her characters aren’t flat or one-dimensional bores, but well-fleshed out and believably drawn, making you feel as if they are old friends that you’ll enjoy cheering for each step of the way. The bad guys are some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of detesting.
Again, Castillo proves it with this heartbreaking and riveting murder/mystery that has a sadly engaging plot with devastating consequences. Mixing the possibilities of an innocent man being convicted of murder, a prison break with an ensuing hostage situation, and a case of corruption keeps the pace moving at a steady clip. Meticulous in her writing of police procedures and case details, along with the interwoven attitudes and customs of the Amish and English living side by side, she elevates the interest and frisson of excitement.
So, was Joseph King framed for a murder he did not commit, or was he guilty as charged? I highly recommend that you get yourself a copy of this book to find out the answer to that question.