Monday, August 5, 2013

“Her Last Breath,” by Linda Castillo

“Her Last Breath,” by Linda Castillo
Reviewed by Lawrence Katz

Although I have not yet read Linda Castillo’s past mysteries set in the Amish communities of  Pennsylvania, the newest version, “Her Last Breath,” has inspired me to do so. The main character in this book, County Police Chief Kate Burkholder, was once Amish herself, but she left the fold and now, responsible for public safety in a county that includes many Amish families, she is often called upon to interface with members of her former religious group when crime disrupts their community. The latest turmoil follows the death of a prominent Amish father and his child when their carriage is struck by a high-speed hit-and-run driver on the highway near their farm. The nature of the crash, and the lack of skid marks, indicates that this was no accident. Determing who-dunnit and why takes Kate back to her unpleasant roots, a journey made all the more painful because of her own dark secrets, which she would rather leave buried, literally. The author manages to combine sensitivity to the Amish culture with real-world cruelty and emotional pain. Kate’s romantic relationship with another police officer, her personal history with the wife of the deceased carriage driver, and the potential unraveling of her own youthful misconduct, add depth to the story. The writing is crisp, fast-paced, and engrossing. Do not fear that the religious angle dilutes or subdues the cop-story language you would expect; it does not. The Amish talk and act like Amish, but the cops talk and act like cops. This book is a “fast read,” both because of the speed of the narrative and the reader’s desire to keep fitting the puzzle pieces together. Highly recommended by this avid reader of mysteries.

Linda Castillo. Photo Credit: Pam Lary

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