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Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo

“Pray for Silence” is the second in Linda Castillo’s “Silence” mystery series set in Amish Ohio. The protagonist is Police Chief, Kate Burkholder, who was born into the Amish community and left after a rape as a teenage girl where she found no support among her family and Amish friends.

While her past has made Burkholder a fearsome crime fighter, it has also left her with bouts of physical and mental anguish, as well as a mean streak that can cause her to lash out without thinking about the consequences. While it is easy to be sympathetic with Burkholder, it is not easy to read some of the passages where she has lost her objectivity as a police officer because of her personal history. It is scary to contemplate what might eventually happen to Burkholder’s career and to her personally if she does not get her personal demons under control.

Her sometime boyfriend and colleague from the state crime lab, John Tomasetti, has his own demons to deal with. He fights a case of traumatic stress syndrome that leaves him depressed and unable to do his job objectively as well. His past trauma relates to the brutal murder of his wife and two daughters. Tomasetti and Burkholder make quite a pair.

In this case an Amish teenage girl falls for an Englisher (a non-Amish person) who ends up brutalizing her, drugging her and using her for porn flicks. She ends of pregnant and she tells her parents, who plan on telling the police and the bishop of their church. When the boyfriend gets wind of the fact that he may be discovered he brutally murders the girl and her family. Burkholder and Tomasetti set out to discover which of several possible suspects was involved in the killings.

This is not an easy book to read. It is extremely graphic and the description of all that was done to the girl and her family, as well as to people who could rat out the murderer, are nauseating. This is one case where I think the author may have gone a little over the top to get across her points about rape and child pornography.

For those who like the ugliness of rape and murder to be out there for everyone to see, this is the book to get. For those who prefer to leave some details left unspoken, this is not the book to read.

Liz Nichols

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