Review: The Hidden One

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: The Hidden OneThe Hidden One (Kate Burkholder, #14) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #14
Published by Minotaur Books on July 5, 2022
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Although I missed Kate being in her element in Painters Mill, her acting as a “private investigator” gave this book in the series a different feel as she is cut off from her resources. I also really enjoyed the personal connection she has to the story and her working out part of her past. I wish there was more Tomasetti but understand why he needed to be at a distance.

THE STORY: Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is approached by Amish elders from Pennsylvania to help with an investigation of a murder. A local man has been accused of the murder of an Amish bishop Ananias Stoltzfus. The man is not a stranger to Kate as he is someone she grew up with and has a history with. Kate finds that being a cop does not give her any privileges and her presence is not wanted by local police. The murdered bishop was a strict man and at first, the only person with a motive seems to be her childhood acquaintance. Then things become dangerous and Kate discovers that there are more secrets in Pennsylvania than she expected.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book primarily because Kate is working out another part of her past. Although I had guessed much of what the secret was, I enjoyed how the story is played out in this book.

I think it is often hard to make a series fresh and interesting after over a dozen books. This book manages new energy by taking Kate out of her element and thus challenging her investigative skills. I wouldn’t want this in every book because I do love the characters in Painters Mill, but I was totally on board with this one.

For me, I read this book more for Kate than I do the mysteries, but this one had plenty of twists and turns. I figured out a lot of this one, but I was still on the journey as the plot followed its path.

What I really enjoyed in this book was Kate’s personal story. She finally has to confront part of her past. As readers know, Kate has a traumatic past that often impinges upon her current relationships including her live-in love, Tomasetti. Another part of her past is revealed in this book and I totally loved the story. It was complex and emotional and worked out in a way that I left the book intensely satisfied.

WORTH MENTIONING: Stay for the end of the book which will make those of us who are here for the Kate/John romance very happy.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE HIDDEN ONE is the fourteenth book in the Kate Burkholder series. Although there are ongoing relationship stories, each book, including this one is a standalone mystery. Therefore, this book can be read as a standalone. My recommendation is to read the books in order though in order to get the most out of the emotional personal story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley which was used to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: Blood Moon

Review: Blood MoonBlood Moon (Kate Burkholder, #13.5) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #13.5
Published by Minotaur Books on April 26, 2022
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 64
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: The story was a bit suspense rather than a true mystery and it ended up making me smile. I love it when Kate and John get to do an investigation together even when it is a small slice of life.

THE STORY: Kate Burkholder, the Chief of Police in Painters Mill gets called out late at night when a man is attacked by something that defies description. Kate and John track the creature during the night as it wreaks havoc on Painter Mill.

OPINION: The story here is pretty thin, but it is a bit scary, suspenseful, and ultimately fun. I love these small little interludes because the stakes are pretty low compared with the big novels. Kate can be funnier. She can take John along with her just because. The story here is exactly the type one might expect that a Chief of Police for a small town would confront — when not dealing with multiple murders as in the main novels!

WORTH MENTIONING: For fans of Kate and John, I would read this story just for the last scene alone.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BLOOD MOON is book 13.5 of the Kate Burkholder series. This is a very short story/slice of life and it is not necessary to read the rest of the series for this although there is not much here except meeting Kate and John and having a small mystery solved.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Fallen

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: FallenFallen (Kate Burkholder, #13) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #13
Published by Minotaur Books on July 6, 2021
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 320
Goodreads
five-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: An enjoyable suspense/mystery story. The circumstances are really sad but I love Kate and John getting the opportunity to do some work together. The story kept me guessing and I was surprised by the ending. This series is fantastic and always a great summer read.

THE STORY: Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to a motel where a young woman has been brutally murdered. She is surprised to realize that she knows the woman who was killed. She was raised Amish and then left the Amish faith and Painters Mill. No one seems to know why she returned and who wanted to kill her. Kate’s investigation brings out many secrets and threatens someone who wants those secrets buried.

OPINION: This is a great read to take to the beach. Murder, suspense, and the great character of Kate Burkholder. The story is well-crafted and while not as personal for Kate, I enjoyed watching her do her job. I was surprised by the ending and felt that the story was topical and yet did not feel forced.

The crime here was violent and the story was graphic at times, but I felt that was completely appropriate in this case. The horror of the crimes committed here is important for understanding the gravity of the acts and builds surprise as to the final resolution.

The book made me turn the pages as it started with a shocking crime that drives the story through to the end. As is often these cases, things don’t turn out as expected, but everything works with the explanation. Reading these books again often surprises me how things are planted throughout the book which provides clues to the solution.

Another winner in this series although a tiny complaint is that I still prefer the more personal stories to the professional cop ones, but no complaints on the actual story and execution.

WORTH MENTIONING: I love the interaction between Kate and John and this book has some really good moments between them that raised the level of this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FALLEN is the thirteenth book in the Kate Burkholder series. Each of the books is a self-contained mystery so this book can be read as a standalone. However, there are continuing personal stories that make this series better to read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

five-stars

Review: The Pact

Review: The PactThe Pact (Kate Burkholder #11.5) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #11.5
Published by Minotaur Books on April 28, 2020
Genres: Mystery
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I always enjoy these short interludes in the Kate Burkholder series. The story doesn’t have the depth or carefully plotted mystery involved in the main books, but the story doesn’t claim to be anything more than a taste of the series.

THE STORY: Two boys, one English and one Amish, disappear and Police Chief Kate Burkholder has to find them. For a short story, it manages to pack in a lot about the cross-cultural biases between the two groups and two boys who just want to be friends. There is some danger and mystery involved, but it is minor.

OPINION: The highlight of this story is the relationship between the two missing boys and their deep friendship in defiance of their parents’ wishes. The story has some adventures for the boys, but the story is really focused on the heartwarming nature of the boys’ friendship and bond rather than death and mystery as is true in the main books. I liked seeing the recurring characters solve something that is more “normal.” I also liked that we got to see Kate and John together working on a case. I miss the books where their interaction was a big part of the story. This shorter story gives a chance to see them in action again.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a short story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE PACT is book 11.5 in the Kate Burkholder series. These short mystery stories are between the novels and are focused on a quick read.

STAR RATING: I give this 3.5 stars.

 

three-half-stars

Review: Outsider

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: OutsiderOutsider (Kate Burkholder #12) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #12
Published by Minotaur Books on July 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: The story is good, but the mystery wasn’t as engaging as others in the series. I love reading about Kate, but this one is my least favorite of the series.

THE STORY: Kate’s past arrives in the form of Gina Colorosa, the woman with whom Kate joined the police force. Gina arrives having been shot and on the run. Holed up at an Amish farm, Kate has to find out the truth while confronting the possibility that Gina might be a criminal herself.

OPINION: Things I liked about this book: we got to see quite a bit of John working with Kate; the stories where we learn more about Kate’s past are always better; I liked the Amish family involved in this story, and Kate was pretty savvy during the story.

Things I didn’t like as much: I didn’t really like Gina much and so I didn’t care as much what happened with her story; with the claustrophobic atmosphere of the book there were large parts where little action occurred; some of the turns in the book were not explained.

I enjoyed the story but felt that overall it is the weakest of the series. The mystery/suspense story didn’t work as well. However, I really did love seeing Kate and John working together/

WORTH  MENTIONING: This story takes place in a very confirmed area with only a few prominent characters which is very different from the usual way this series works.

CONNECTED BOOKS: OUTSIDER is the twelfth book in the Kate Burkholder series. The mystery in this book is completely self-contained and can be read without any other book. There are continuing personal storylines, however. Reading the books in order gives the best experience.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review and all opinions contained herein are my own.

 

four-stars

Review: Shamed

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: ShamedShamed (Kate Burkholder, #11) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #11
Published by Minotaur Books on July 16, 2019
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 304
Goodreads
five-stars

 

“You see a lot of things when you’re the chief of police in a small town.”

FINAL DECISION: Loved this one. Pulse pounding exciting mystery/suspense with plenty of Kate and John together. Plus, this one once again gives more complexity to the Amish.

THE STORY: An Amish grandmother is murdered and her young granddaughter is kidnapped. Chief Kate Burkholder is in a race against time to find the girl. The investigation leads Kate to uncomfortable information about the Amish that challenges what she thought she knew about them. She discovers that there are a lot of secrets to be uncovered.

OPINION: I loved this book. I was drawn into the story from the first page and the pacing of the book kept me breathless throughout. This was a fast paced and dramatic book until the very end.

I’m a big fan of this series especially because Kate is such an independent and competent character. She makes mistakes and she thinks too much, but everything she does comes from deep caring. Kate’s emotional connection to cases is always both problematic but also part of her great strength as an investigator. As always, Kate’s connection to the Amish give her an entry to the important people in the investigation, but often the reality conflicts with Kate’s faith in the Amish.

Here, there are serious secrets at work and Kate has to discover the truth in order to save the girl and find the killer.

There was a lot happening in this book which made it a read that I couldn’t put down. Every time I finished a chapter, instead of being able to put the book down, I wanted to know what happened next. I ended up reading the book in one large gulp.

I also really enjoyed that Kate’s love interest John is involved in the case rather than just being on the sideline. Kate and John work so well together that I love them having more “screen time” together. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get more followup from the prior book, but I always enjoy seeing how their relationship is developing.

Fans of the series will find all the elements that make this series worth reading. New readers will also get an exciting read as this book can be a gateway to the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: The format of this book add to the tension of the story. The construction is a bit different than others in the series but it works well here.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SHAMED is the eleventh book in the Kate Burkholder series. This book has a self-contained mystery and thus can be read as a standalone. There are ongoing character developments that will have less impact if the series is not read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

five-stars

Review: In Plain Sight

Review: In Plain SightIn Plain Sight (Kate Burkholder, #10.5) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #10.5
Published by Minotaur Books on May 28, 2019
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 60
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A small mystery about a teenage Amish boy who is struck by a car and questions that arise when it looks like it might not have been an accident. This is a small mystery benefiting its length, but I liked it as we get to see all the best parts of the characters in the series.

THE STORY: When a teenage Amish boy is found seriously injured by the side of the road, it initially appears to be an accident. But Chief Kate Burkholder soon finds out that not everyone in town was happy that the Amish boy was dating an English girl.

OPINION: This is a pretty straightforward story, but has some of the hallmark issues raised in the series: the conflict between the Amish and the others in town, emotional and sex relationships, Kate being a strong person who does her job in a kickass fashion, the relationships she has with her staff and John. This short story (it’s too short for me to even consider it a novella) gives a nice taste of what is involved in the series. I thought the plot was well executed.

WORTH MENTIONING: Only small glimpses of Kate and John in this one.

CONNECTED BOOKS: IN PLAIN SIGHT is book 11.5 in the Kate Burkholder series. This short story can be read as a standalone and gives some idea of the stakes in the main books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

 

four-stars

Review: Her Last Breath

Review: Her Last BreathHer Last Breath (Kate Burkholder, #5) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #5
Published by Minotaur Books on June 18, 2013
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 320
Goodreads
five-stars

Emotional and Deeply Personal Amish Murder Mystery

FINAL DECISION; I loved this book. The book delves deeply into Kate’s emotional world and the personal connection to the murders being investigated bring out all sorts of difficulties for Kate.

THE STORY: Kate Burkholder, Chief of Police, is called to a horrible accident. An Amish father and two of his children are killed when their buggy is struck by a vehicle. This hit and run accident at first appears tragic but accidental. Soon, however, questions arise and it appears that the “accident” may actually have been murder. Kate is left trying to figure out who would want to murder the husband of her childhood friend.

OPINION: This is a murder that deeply wounds Kate. Because of her personal connection to the victims, Kate’s past is churned up. This is a book all about the churning up of the past. The mystery was really good in this one. It kept me guessing until the end, and honestly I didn’t see the ultimate solution coming. Winding through this mystery are two other personal issues with Kate. Her relationship with John is a prominent part of this story as she needs to decide whether she wants a deeper commitment with him. Also, Kate also finds out that secrets don’t stay buried as the crime that touched her life when she was fourteen is uncovered and she fears that her life will fall apart. I think the best part of these books is the personal connection that makes these books so compelling. This story is too strongly entwined with Kate’s life that it gives great insight into her and also into the case itself. I can find a decent mystery anywhere. It is the extra personal connection that makes this book so compelling.

WORTH MENTIONING: Kate and John’s relationship has a significant turn in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HER LAST BREATH is the fifth book in the Kate Burkholder series. It can be read as a standalone although a dark mystery from Kate’s past returns here. Readers would be better served by reading at least the first book in the series first.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Long Lost

Review: Long LostLong Lost (Kate Burkholder, #4.5) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #4.5
Published by Minotaur Books on May 7, 2013
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 58
Goodreads
three-half-stars

A Short Novella Better for Romance Than Mystery

FINAL DECISION: This was a nice little novella. There was a mystery, but it was a simple one without much drama or thrill. For me, the best part was the relationship between Kate and John and their inability to relax.

THE STORY: Kate Burkholder, a police chief and her lover John Tomasetti are taking a well deserved vacation at a bed and breakfast when a 20 year old mystery of a missing woman tempts them away from their relaxation into investigating what happened.

OPINION: Part of my favorite parts of this series is the interactions between Kate and John. Their dark pasts have made their relationship a rocky one. Here, Kate and John have a chance to relax, but their relationship remains tricky for them so they slide into an investigation rather than dealing with their relationship. For me, that was more interesting than the mystery here.

WORTH MENTIONING: This novella is very short. In my Kindle version, 25% was a preview for another book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LONG LOST is book 4.5 in the Kate Burkholder series. It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Gone Missing

Review: Gone MissingGone Missing (Kate Burkholder, #4) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #4
Published by Minotaur Books on June 19, 2012
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 276
Goodreads
five-stars

Scary Heart Pounding Thriller Set in Amish Country

FINAL DECISION: This is one scary book with a ultimate reveal being quite surprising. Having Kate and John be able to spend more time together in a different location helps develop their relationship and shows a different side to Kate.

THE STORY: Something is happening to Amish teens, there have been some mysterious disappearances in Ohio. Kate, with her experience of having been Amish and also being police chief of a town with a significant Amish population is asked to consult on the cases. She will be working with her friend and lover John Tomasetti at his request. When one of the disappearances becomes a murder investigation, Kate fears for a missing teen in her own town.

OPINION: This was a thrilling book. Puzzling and then frightening with a mystery with many layers so that the ultimate solution was not predictable, this book was one that kept me switching between suspects until the end. I really liked that Kate is out of her element here. It allows her to have a different role that doesn’t get bogged down in the practicalities of her normal police work. It also allows her to have a different experience working with John. I am a big fan of the relationship between these two damaged people and I like to see how they are making halting moves towards one another.

The climax of this story was really scary and even though I knew that things would turn out okay (there are more books in the series after all), I still felt the danger that Kate was in.

WORTH MENTIONING: The personal relationship between Kate and John takes a new turn in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: GONE MISSING is the fourth book in the Kate Burkholder series. The book is a mystery crime thriller and can read as a standalone. It does, however, contain a continuing personal story about Kate’s reaction to her job and also her relationship with John Tomasetti that continues through the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars