Crime novel series set in Ohio Amish country takes a side trip

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Last month I presented one of my recurring lists of books that will be coming out soon. One title I mentioned was “The Hidden One” by Linda Castillo. I wrote that this novel featuring Chief Of Police Kate Burkholder is part of a series set in Pennsylvania. Oh, my, I could almost hear the howls of protest from readers.

I’m realizing these books are popular. Several readers contacted me and very nicely corrected my error. Kate is the top cop in the fictional town of Painter’s Mill in the heart of Ohio Amish country. This would be the region of Holmes County or thereabouts. I loved it that they cared enough to set me straight.

With that being said this new story does take place almost entirely in Pennsylvania. The story begins with a murder. An Amish bishop is about to be killed by a mysterious assailant. It turns out that this crime had been unknown until recently when the remains of said bishop were unearthed in a farm field.

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Bishop Ananias Stoltzfus simply vanished 18 years ago. Nobody knew where he had gone. Now that his fate has become known, with the murder weapon laying right there next to him, the owner of that weapon, a man who had been in conflict with the bishop all those years ago, has been arrested.

Some Amish elders travel from Pennsylvania to ask Kate Burkholder if she will come there to investigate the murder. When she learns who the police are holding as their suspect she is stunned. The man, Jonas Bowman, was Kate’s first real crush.

Kate was raised Amish. She has since separated from that tight-knit society. She remains in that community however. Her knowledge of their ways and language are essential tools she implements in her police work. Painter’s Mill is fairly peaceful, her Amish background is a valuable asset.

She agrees to help. After arriving in Pennsylvania she begins sifting for clues. She encounters numerous obstacles and impediments. She has no standing there as a police officer-the local constabulary wasn’t thrilled about having this outsider turning up to snoop around.

The bishop’s son and daughter are overtly hostile. They are certain that Jonas, Kate’s former love, is the culprit who killed their father. Kate’s ability to communicate in the local dialect serves as a crucial method for her to begin digging deeper. Her investigative skills are exemplary. She possesses dogged determination.

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Somebody doesn’t want her there. Someone is trying to kill her. More than once she is attacked by an assailant with lethal intentions. The local police don’t seem that concerned about her safety. She’s going it mostly alone.

Castillo gives readers occasional flashbacks to those moments many years ago when the adolescent Kate was falling in love with the man who might now be a murderer. This book is a slick police procedural, a thriller, and maybe even a bit of a romance. I fully comprehend the appeal of this series.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at vick@vickmickunas.com.

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