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Friday 21 November 2014

‘Her Last Breath’ by Linda Castillo

Published by Macmillan,
20 June 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-230-76024-0

Kate Burkholder is the Police Chief in a small town on the edge of an Amish community.  One night, an Amish deacon, Paul Borntrager, is driving back home after a doctor's appointment for his three children, all of whom are special-needs kids, since they suffer from a rare genetic disease often found in closed societies such as the Amish, where the gene pool is not refreshed by outsiders coming in. At an intersection, the Borntrager buggy is directly hit by a driver going at 80 mph, causing the death of Paul and two of his children.  The driver doesn't stop.

Kate can't work out how anyone could commit such a vicious and cowardly crime, especially when children are involved.  As a lapsed Amish herself, she is particularly sensitive to Amish customs and beliefs and bears stoically the hostility of those who think she will burn in hell for her defection. 

I don't know much about the Amish community, so to me all the detail rang wonderfully true.  Linda Castillo strengthens the plot with a secondary story-line about Kate and her would-be lover/husband John Tomasetti, himself a lawyer.  I found their interaction to be both absorbing and realistic.  Added to the mix is a skeleton discovered in a deserted granary which links Kate as she is now to Kate when she was a child of fourteen.  This is for the most part a straight forward deductive detection novel and I have to say I did not see the final twist coming.  Having thoroughly enjoyed this novel, I shall certainly be reading earlier books in the series.
Reviewer: Susan Moody

Linda Castillo Originally from Ohio where her Amish thrillers are set, Linda Castillo knew from an early age that she wanted to be a writer—and penned her first novel at the age of thirteen. The author of twenty-seven novels, she is the recipient of numerous industry awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, the Holt Medallion, the Golden Heart, and a nomination for the prestigious Rita.Her debut thriller, Sworn To Silence, was recently adapted into a two-hour original movie titled An Amish Murder starring Neve Campbell as Kate Burkholder. Her Amish thrillers routinely appear on the New York Times bestseller list. In her spare time Linda enjoys riding horses, especially trail riding, and dabbles in barrel racing. She resides in Texas with her husband, three dogs, a barn cat, and two Appaloosa horses. She’s currently at work on her next novel, a thriller set in Amish Country and featuring Chief of Police Kate Burkholder.

Susan Moody was born and brought up in Oxford.  She has published over 30 crime and suspense novels, including the Penny Wanawake series and the Cassandra Swann bridge series.  She is a past Chairman of the British Crime Writers' Association, a member of the Detection Club, a past Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tasmania and a past President of the International Association of Crime Writers.  She divides her time between south-west France and south-east Kent.   Nominated for the CWA short story award.  Nominated for the RNA's award. 

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