>> Tuesday, November 03, 2015
TITLE: Pray For Silence
AUTHOR: Linda Castillo
SETTING: Contemporary US
SERIES: Book #2 in the Kate Burkholder series. Follows Sworn to Silence
The sound of a scream in the early morning dawn leads to a case that will change Kate Burkholder's life irrevocably...
When the police arrive at the Amish farmstead in Painters Mill they can't imagine the horror that awaits them. An entire family slaughtered: the men shot, the young women tortured and killed. The Amish are peace-loving, gentle folk and the town is shocked by what appears to be a particularly brutal - and random killing. But is it random?
Every family has its secrets. Kate knows that better than anyone. And as she and Agent John Tomasetti dig deeper into the victims' lives they discover a young woman who was living a lie. A girl who had to live in silence.
With her own past resonating - Kate knows she has to maintain some distance. From the case, and from Tomasetti. She knows what could happen if she gets too close. But when she puts herself in the line of fire - she realizes that, this time, there may be no going back.
This series centres arount Kate Burkholder, who's Chief of Police in the small Ohio town of Painters Mill. Kate grew up in an Amish family but left the community as a teenager. Still, her past helps her deal with cases involving any members of the large Amish community in the area, as they have a tendency to mistrust the "English" police.
In this, the second book in the series, Kate must investigate the shockingly brutal murder of an entire Amish family. Initial enquiries indicate that the Planks were upstanding members of the community and had no enemies. Why would anyone kill them, and with such vicious violence and cruelty that motives like robbery make no sense? But Kate soon discovers that, like everyone else, members of the Plank family had secrets. And with the help of John Tomasetti, her on-and-off lover, currently on leave from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Kate must get to the bottom of them.
I think I'm done with this series. Kate Burkholder is a bad cop: bad in the sense of her investigations being illogical and downright dumb, and bad in the sense of her being utterly contemptuous of suspects' civil rights. I might read a book with such a main character if they're a sort of anti-hero protagonist, but as far as the narration is concerned, Kate is a great cop and all her actions are justified (and none of what are clearly lapses in judgment have any negative consequences).
So, a family has been massacred, no indication of drugs whatsoever, and yet Kate's first instinct is to go harass the locals who she suspects (knows, as far as she's concerned) make meth. Why? Just because they are bad people and she judges they deserve to be harassed, even when there's nothing to indicate they've done anything wrong. Obvious lines of enquiry (e.g. which men were frequent visitors to the store where young Mary Plank worked?) must wait till much later.Then she decides she'll go harass someone because he once assaulted an Amish man, and there are indications that was a hate crime. The guy goads her (pretty mildly, to be honest), and she responds by assaulting him with her baton. And when the guy complains, both Tomasetti and her deputy, who were in the room, say they didn't see anything. Classic. It takes some doing to make me sympathise with scum like these guys, but Castillo manages it. In both those interactions, I was on the side of the suspects, not Kate's, and it really shouldn't have been that way. There were a couple of instances which were along the same lines in the previous book, too, so it's not a problem that's likely to get better.
Additionally, both the first and second books in the series have young women tortured horribly and graphically, in ways that feel exploitative and titillating. If I'd felt more positively about Kate I might have given this series another shot and hoped this trend didn't continue. As it is, I'm done. Shame, because Castillo's previous books were just as dark but in a much more imaginative, original way, and with much better characters.
MY GRADE: A D.
AUDIOBOOK NOTES: The narrator is the same as in book 1, Kathleen McInerney. I liked her in that book, but she started to get on my nerves in this one. The voice she does for Tomasetti really isn't great (she does it raspy, but to me, in a way that crosses the line into creepy). Also, there was a particular scene where Kate is interrogating a young man with learning disabilities, and the way McInerney did her questions, exageratedly as if she was talking to a young child, disturbed me (well, Kate does describe him as "mentally retarded", which is a whole 'nother problem, and which McInerney might have taken as a clue as to what her attitude might be!).