Picks and Pans Review: Murder in Amish Country

updated 07/06/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/06/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Linda Castillo |

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Grisly killings in bucolic locales are a dime-a-dozen in the thriller world, but when a "gun-toting, cursing, former Amish female chief of police" is on the case, things get interesting fast. Kate Burkholder abandoned her Amish upbringing in Painters Mill, Ohio, after a childhood trauma. When her mother falls ill years later, Kate leaves her big-city cop job and becomes Painters Mill's police chief, a post that entails mostly collaring drunks and wayward cows, until a woman is killed in the brutal manner of the unsolved "Slaughterhouse Murders" that terrorized the town 16 years earlier. Knowing it can't be the same killer—but unable to share her knowledge without jeopardizing her family as well as her career—Kate agonizes while the body count climbs. Romance novelist Castillo, who grew up near Amish country, convincingly switches gears with this debut thriller, balancing chilling suspense and a nuanced portrait of the English-Amish divide. Starring a tough, complicated cop who speaks Pennsylvania Dutch as smoothly as she downs a vodka, Silence is the opening salvo in what promises to be a gripping series.

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