Title: Breaking Silence
Author: Linda Castillo
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3 out of 5
In the third book of the Kate Burkholder series (after Sworn to Silence and Pray for Silence), Kate is once again faced with crimes against the Amish. This time, though, they are hate crimes – buggies run off the road, set on fire, etc., and Kate is at a loss as to what to do. When she gets an emergency call about the Slabaugh farm and finds Mr. and Mrs. Slabaugh, as well as Mr. Slabaugh’s brother, dead in the manure pit, she isn’t sure whether the deaths were accidental, a result of a hate crime gone wrong, or pure, unadulterated murder.
I really enjoyed the first two books in the Kate Burkholder series, but I was unsure about Breaking Silence. Specifically, I wasn’t certain how much longer the tortured-by-her-past, former-Amish chief of police premise could stand up, and it turns out I was right to be worried. Breaking Silence didn’t work nearly as well for me as the previous two novels.
The premise of hate crimes against the Amish was interesting and worked well for the book as a whole. However, the murders were a little more difficult. Amish communities are small and peaceful; for the most part, the Amish keep to themselves. Therefore, a third set of horrific murders in this small, sleepy community is pushing credulity. Additionally, the book unfolded slowly; while it never lost my interest, I definitely wasn’t as interested in this novel as I was in its prequels.
Kate also has become difficult for me. While her (understandably) tortured soul was appealing in the first novel, the fact that she has progressed little in terms of character development is frustrating. In many ways, she is the exact same person as she was in the first book. When the main character in a mystery series is so personally involved in each case, there needs to be progression, and in this case, there just isn’t really any.
While I do enjoy Linda Castillo and would be ecstatic about a new series from her, Breaking Silence just didn’t work fror me. That being said, if I’d read it as a standalone novel, without having read the first two, I probably would have really enjoyed it. As part of the series, though, it just felt like a rehashing of the first two books, and it didn’t really seem to lead anywhere. Here’s hoping that Castillo gives Kate a deserved rest and starts a new series with her next book!