Series: Kate Burkholder #1
Narrator: Kathleen McInerney
Published by Macmillan Audio on June 23, 2009
Genres: Mystery, Suspense
Length: 11 hours, 43 minutes
Audio | Goodreads
A killer is preying on sacred ground....
In the sleepy rural town of Painters Mill, Ohio, the Amish and “English” residents have lived side by side for two centuries. But sixteen years ago, a series of brutal murders shattered the peaceful farming community. In the aftermath of the violence, the town was left with a sense of fragility, a loss of innocence. Kate Burkholder, a young Amish girl, survived the terror of the Slaughterhouse Killer but came away from its brutality with the realization that she no longer belonged with the Amish.
Now, a wealth of experience later, Kate has been asked to return to Painters Mill as Chief of Police. Her Amish roots and big city law enforcement background make her the perfect candidate. She’s certain she’s come to terms with her past—until the first body is discovered in a snowy field. Kate vows to stop the killer before he strikes again. But to do so, she must betray both her family and her Amish past—and expose a dark secret that could destroy her.
Painter’s Mill, Ohio Police Chief Kate Burkholder is suddenly faced with what looks like the re-emergence of a serial killer who hadn’t struck in the last 16 years. The killer’s signature is to leave Roman numerals carved on the murdered victim. Kate’s conflicted as she’s harboring a secret that relates directly to the case. Painter’s Mill is a town where the Amish and “English” have coexisted for years. Kate straddles both cultures as she was raised Amish but left when she was a teenager.
I’ve had this book on my shelf for a long time even though it was strongly recommended by friends. Thinking it was on the cozy side of the mystery genre (not my favorite side), I backburnered it until now. Let me make this clear…this story is polar opposite of a cozy; gritty, gruesome and gnarly.
I really liked this story with its flawed characters and unusual setting. Kate’s still trying to come to terms with her past, which shapes her perspective in the present. John Tomasetti, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) agent sent to help Kate, has his own demons and forges an uneasy alliance with her. The cultural aspects of the Amish community are interesting, especially when contrasted with the realities of the coexistence with those outside of their world.
While Kate makes many errors of judgment driven by her personal involvement in the case, she’s still an admirable character. The case wasn’t easy to resolve and kept my interest through the end. The narration by Kathleen McInerney was exceptional and I plan to continue the series in audio format. I’m officially hooked and could smack myself for putting off reading this book.
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