Excellent Crime Thriller - 4 Stars
Me and Kate Burkholder are not quite seeing eye to eye. Her and her friends need to have their mouths washed out with some soap. We get it already, you are not God-fearing, pacifist Amish. If the penchant for drinking away pain and the intimidation of witnesses didn't give us this impression, the frequent f-bombs certainly clue us in. Although I really do enjoy the wonderful writing and meticulous plots, I going to have to put the series aside. The excessive use of adult language has been a turn off.
The normally quite town of Painter's Mill is left paralyzed by fear when in the early morning hours a family of 6 (or maybe 7)is found shot and murdered with no trace of a killer left behind. Amongst the family members killed by gunshot wounds, the two teenaged daughters appear to have been tortured while one of the girls was found to have been mutilated. It is the story of this savaged girl that leads the investigation. While investigation these brutal crimes, Kate Burkholder finds herself emotionally drawn into the investigation and she faces what she has lost and what could have been.
The Good Death and Destruction Brought to you by Thomas Kincade
This series by Linda Castillo features one of the best setting for any crimes novels I have read. The peaceful and rolling countryside dominated by the insular Amish society provide a stark contrast for death and destruction. It is almost profane to imagine such dark crimes taking place in this pastoral setting. The author does a wonderful job of blending the beauty of the setting with the brutal and brooding darkness of the human mind.
The Bad Plug your Ears Grandma
As I complained above, I felt the adult language was again excessive. As I chose to listen to the audio version of this book, the language really stood out. Linda Castillo continues to paint a story with stark contrasts. While the language may be used to contrast with the surroundings, I was put off by the constant swearing. Give the Woman a Tissue
I always enjoy strong female characters. Without a doubt, Kate Burkholder is a strong woman...well, mostly. Unlike the first book, we found Kate, somewhat stereotypically, teary and close to losing control of her emotions. Granted, she does more than cry. Kate has a hard time with impulse control. Throughout the story she finds herself in bed with a person she is trying to avoid, drunk on several occasions when it was not appropriate, attacking a potential witness, finding herself unable to say no to the strong male character and in one major move, taking action that could conceivable cause her to lose her badge. While a broken character is believable, Kate felt like more a caricature that in the first novel.
I expect the first novel of a crime series to involve a case that is personal to the protagonist. I thought we did that in the first novel. Apparently, it can get more personal. If I ever read the third novel, I hope it is less personal as that ground is now well tread. Final Thoughts
The language aside, I really did enjoy the book. While I had issues with the development of Kate Burkholder, Linda Castillo is an amazing author with a wonderful sense of plot and setting. If you are not bother by adult language and you like dark crime novels, you will enjoy this series.
If I do continue the series at a later point, it will not be in the audio format. I found myself tired of the narrator after this second book. She seemed to play up the frail emotions in her narration and added to the feeling of a stereotypical female lead. While her narration is fairly good, I don't enjoy her in this series. Content Advisories
It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.
Scale 1 - Lowest 5 - Highest
Sex - 4
There is sexual tension between characters and one non graphic description of an implied sexual encounter. There is some non graphic descriptions of a victims consensual sexual encounters. The rating was raised because there was a major theme of rape and sexual encounters where the victim could not give consent (through the use of drugs). Though the investigation, there is much discussion of forms of pornography where there is non consenting participants. While the description are at most, moderately graphic, it is a major theme and persistent.
Language - 4
While there may have been a small reduction in adult language from the first novel, I was still pervasive. I felt the use of mild obscenities and the f-word were excessive and unnecessary.
Violence - 4
Violence is a major theme. It covers the gambit from execution style murder, suicide, torture and rape. The crimes are dark the perpetrators are unrepentant. While the violence is persistent, the author avoids gore and manages to be respectful despite the high violence level.