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97 of 102 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A family is discovered murdered in their home. This isn't just any brutal murder, either- a family of seven, Amish, bound and slaughtered. Sound pretty gruesome? It is. Kate Burkholder is the chief of police in the small town of Painters Mill. Formerly Amish, Burkholder finds the crime shocking and is immediately thrust into the center of a tornado of questions. Trying to find answers, Burkholder must confront her own past and penetrate the tightly-knit Amish community who distrust the 'English', as they call outsiders in a town uneasily divided along the lines of faith and culture.

For me, this was a terrific and entertaining read. I wish I had known that Castillo had written a previous book before reading this but so it goes. The depiction of the crime scene is very graphic- so take note, if that sort of thing is disturbing, you may not enjoy this book so much. I did not, however, feel like the violence portrayed was gratuitous. The author is portraying a horrific crime and the degree of violence and horror of the initial crime scene are necessary to set up the ensuing tension of the thriller.

I'm not generally a big murder mystery reader but I really enjoyed this. I loved the interesting perspective the Amish community brings to the story. The suspense is good and there is a romantic element to the story, as well.

Castillo does a great job with her characterization. She really breathes life into her supporting cast, not just the protagonist. I'm a little divided on the fact that she writes from a first-person perspective in some chapters and in third-person for others. I find it a little distracting in how the book flows.

The writing is decent and doesn't get in the way of the story. I was reading in the living room while my kids and hubby watched t.v.. I can't always do that- if a book doesn't have a firm hold on me, I will eventually be distracted by the tv-- not so with this book!

If you like a good thriller, a quick read and think you will enjoy the small-town-cop/Amish perspective- you will really like this book. Again, some pretty violent descriptions surrounding the crime scene which might ruin the book for some.

Castillo is def. going on my list of authors to follow as I really enjoyed this book, I will look forward to reading more of her work.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 14, 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I loved Linda Castillo's "Sworn to Silence" and the way she introduced Police Cheif Kate Burkholder, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on the follow up novel "Pray for Silence".

The good news is that if you liked the first novel, you'll most likely enjoy this second offering too. All of the elements found in the first book make a return appearance, the sleepy little town of Painters Mill pops off the pages, and the population of that small town come alive with Castillo's writing. The dynamic between the Amish and the "English" is once again the backbone of this story, and once again the reader gets drawn into the fascinating world of Amish farm life. And once again, Cheif Burkholder must confront the demons of her past when trying to solve the brutal murder of an entire Amish family.

I really do like Linda Castillo's writing style, and the brutal crimes in "Pray for Silence" will make even the most avid genre reader flinch while reading. This is definately not a book for the squeamish as Castillo visits some pretty nasty corners of Painters Mill.

While I don't think "Pray for Silence" was as nailbiting as "Sworn..." it's still a great read, and Cheif Burkholder is one of the best new characters to hit crime fiction in years. If you haven't discovered this series...do yourself a favor and pick up both Burkholder books.
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76 of 89 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 5, 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In Ohio's Amish country, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder encounters the grisly murder of an entire Amish family. Her investigation is aided by sort-of-love-interest BCI agent John Tomasetti. Was Amish teenager Mary Plank living a double life, and did her secrets get her family killed? The discovery of the victim's diary might provide the answers. This novel's plot and unusual (though not fully accurate) setting held my interest, but repetitious prose and two over-emotional protagonists undermined a story I might have otherwise enjoyed.

The repetition became most irritating in regard to Kate's emotions. Over and over, she tells the reader that this case is "the kind of scene that affects even the most hard-nosed of cops" (p. 34), that "some crimes are simply too terrible for the eyes to behold" (p. 36), that she "can't imagine the horrors these girls must have endured" (p. 37). On and on the melodramatic inner monologue continues--throughout the entire book. Often, Kate expounds in full paragraphs that the horrible awfulness of working this crime is harder on her than anyone else, due to her past as a formerly Amish teenager and as a crime victim herself. By 100 pages into the book, I could hardly ask "whodunit" anymore, because I was asking other, more irritated questions: did the author think her readers would forget that Kate used to be Amish, even after reminding us (for the twentieth time) less than ten pages ago? Did the author think the best way to elicit my sympathy for her character was for Kate to *tell* me her angst instead of the author *showing* me? Did no one edit this book?

Still, let's say the book had been edited to about 75% of its current length. That wouldn't fix the two protagonists, who can't seem to behave objectively even at the risk of their case. First, we have Kate's overreaction to just about everything. A belligerent suspect calls her a dirty name, so she hits him with her nightstick. A suspect flees through a cornfield, so she chases him blindly and without backup. And what was she doing at the crime scene alone in the first place? She's had a long day, so she goes to the bar *in uniform* and gets "alcohol-fuzzed." Bait is required, so she sets herself up to be utterly alone when the suspect takes said bait. Not to mention she gets choked up and/or just breaks down crying often enough during the book that when she breaks down in the final scene, there's nothing left for the reader to feel.

Then there's Tomasetti. I wanted to feel for him, the Controlled Cop Brooding Over Dark Past. But come on. The guy's on mandatory leave pending psych evaluation for failing a drug test, yet he shows up in Kate's town to assist her investigation, because he "needs to work." Worse, he doesn't tell her at first that he's there unofficially. Worst, when Kate finds out, there's no confrontation. No, "What is wrong with you, my case could be completely screwed!" Nope. They keep working together. She "understands" his need to be in the field. Well, how nice, but every interview he's been on and every piece of evidence he's touched are inadmissible, so good luck stopping your bad guy. And of course, they also spend a night together, because nothing says "focused on the case" like sleeping with your colleague. Most annoyingly, none of these lapses in judgment have any consequences.

I won't be coming back for more from Linda Castillo. Her prose repeats itself like a first draft. Her characters' behavior and therefore her plot ignore realism in favor of drama. Ultimately, the only thing I felt while reading PRAY FOR SILENCE was frustration.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2010
After reading all the positive reviews for this novel, I thought perhaps I had read a completely different book. I found this book stunningly repetitive -- the author constantly reminds the readers of the protagonist's Amish background, her mysterious emotional "connection" to the victim, strange relationship with her partner John -- OK, I got that the first twenty times, thank you. But the ending was stupefying and made me want to throw the book against a wall. I will not be a spoiler, but I will say that nothing, absolutely nothing, about the crime is cleared up, and the reader is left to wonder -- along with Detective Kate, who says "I guess we'll never know exactly what or why..." and is apparently OK with that -- how the suspects even know each other. After spending time and slogging through the repetition, being left with a complete bag of unanswered questions just pushed me over the literary edge, so to speak.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2011
The crime is "too terrible, too terrible, too terrible" and on and on and on... the lead is supposed to be the police CHIEF? but she sounds like a skittish teenager. Of the two teenage girls, found stripped naked - except for their Amish caps - and hanging by their hands from the rafter in the barn, CHIEF Kate decides this case might have some "sexual overtones." Hey? You think? The medical examiner keeps explaining things like lividity and liver temp to her over and over and she is accepting all this information as if totally new and fascinating to her. After she and her people have tromped all over the scene, back and forth a number of times, she cautions the CSU to wear hairnets (?)... Sorry, I could not finish it.

Also I think Linda Castillo is trying to do murder porn like, say, Val McDermid but if so, she falls really short of the mark. The repetitious "Too terrible, too terrible, too terrible" just don't cut it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I knew when I read Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo that her mystery series was going to be one that I looked forward to reading, waiting anxiously for the next installment. This summer Pray for Silence, the second book in Castillo's series, was published, and after devouring it in just a day, I can attest to this book's appeal.

I loved this mystery, despite the fact that the details were grisly. Chief Kate Burkholder must investigate the massacre and torture of an entire Amish family - all seven members. Because Kate grew up Amish she is unable to accept the initial scenario: that the father killed his wife and children and then killed himself. Eventually, evidence leads Kate to investigate further, and in typical mystery fashion, there is more to the story than originally meets the eye. The story centers around Mary, the fifteen year old daughter who is beginning to be influenced by the outside world, experiencing her first love, and wanting to leave the Amish community.

Pray for Silence takes place not quite a year after the first mystery Kate was involved in. She is still seeing Tomasetti, a state agent, who is grieving the murder of his wife and two young daughters two and a half years ago. Their relationship is characterized by a lot of baggage they each bring with them. And while it seems the odds are stacked against them having a lasting relationship, I keep rooting for this pair. While this is only the second in this series, I enjoyed the familiarity already established with Kate and the supporting characters in this book, learning even more about the members of the Millers Kill police department and in the community.

I will be watching for Castillo's next Kate Burkholder mystery, ancious to see how this series develops.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2012
I find it hard to imagine that any normal human being could conceive of such depraved violence against women and children and call it entertainment. I find it harder to believe that they would imagine it could pass as anything even remotely approaching something enjoyable to read about. I read the first book in the series all the way through but couldn't finish the second and won't bother with the third. These books are disgusting and unless you enjoy reading about women and children being tortured and sexually violated, don't waste your time or your money. Try Louise Penny instead.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2010
I am a new fan of Linda Castillo books. My first Linda Castillo book was Sworn to Silence, and I loved it, and since I have purchased/downloaded all of her books that are available on Kindle. If you have never read a Linda Castillo, you are TRULY missing out on an awesome read. I can't imagine you being disappointed. I started Pray For Silence after dinner, and I stayed up ALL night reading it (hint hint, start this book early in the day, unless you want to stay up all night :)), I could NOT put it down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found "Pray for Silence" almost accidentally and was intrigued enough to start reading. Once I started, i couldn't stop, and the first thing I did when finishing was order Linda Castillo's first book ("Sworn to Silence").

A word of warning: it's not for the faint of heart.

Police Chief Kate Burkholder, who oversees the quiet little town of Painters Mill, comes across the horrific torture-murder of an entire Amish family. Though it first appears to be a murder suicide, it soon becomes clear that outside forces are at work. Burkholder and her tiny police force, with the help of renegade cop John Tomasetti (with whom she has an on again/off again affair), start to unravel the mystery and discover that teenage daughter Mary had become involved with an outsider who not only seduced her but documented all their escapades on video. Making the investigation more difficult is Burkholder's own troubled past as one who left the Amish faith after being raped. Thomasetti, meanwhile, is battling demons of his own.

The characters are compelling and setting is intriguing. There is much background information about the Amish culture and religion, and about the tensions between the Amish and the "English," as they are called. Castillo unravels the mystery nicely, moving farther and farther back in time to understand how this crime could occur.

It's filed with evocative descriptions, red herrings, plot twists, and character driven action. I was immediately drawn into the world and could not put the book down. Looking forward to whatever Castillo pens next.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2011
This book seemed to have had such promise, but after listening to about 2/3 of the book, I felt like I was slogging through it. I even missed a disc and was fine without it.

I don't think I'm providing any "true" spoilers, but just beware.

* Kate's "I used to be Amish" schtick got old really, really fast. Did you know she was Amish? Used to be Amish? Had an unresolved trauma that makes her not do her work effectively?
* Did you know this was a violent, terrible, life-changing crime?
* Really asking to put a young boy at risk? Plus some "wait, doesn't she know that?" aspect to that as well.
* Putting yourself and team at risk without telling anyone else - not even your own superiors? No backup??
* Tomasetti is damaged from not being able to help his wife & daughter? And still abuses drugs and alcohol? And helps out in cases when he shouldn't? Bad, bad John Tomasetti. It's not unreasonable for your superiors to want you to go to therapy! And the questions the therapist was asking weren't unreasonable either.
* It was really hot during the day even in mid-October in Ohio? Indian Summer's one thing, but it doesn't get that warm there during that time of year.

Maybe if I'd also read this versus listening to it read, that can make a difference, too.

I wanted to like it, but couldn't finish.
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