Pray for Silence
When a police officer stops for a leak and a cigarette on a quiet back road the last thing he expects is to hear horrifying screams. But what he finds when he responds to those screams makes him want to do a little terrified screeching of his own. That he found it on a peaceful Amish farm makes the scene just that much more bizarre.
Police Chief Kate Burkholder is a veteran officer but this family annihilation has even the most seasoned veterans on her squad horrified. Though it’s made to appear as though the father committed the crime, it becomes clear to Kate and her crew pretty quickly that the whole scene was staged; within an hour of being at the scene they know someone in their small, quiet community is a monster in disguise. As they begin to sift through the evidence it becomes apparent that the investigation needs to center on young Mary, a daughter who may have been considering leaving the Amish way of life. Mary reminds Kate far too much of herself for her own comfort. Already in a precarious emotional state, she is unsure whether she should call agent John Tomasetti of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. She has no doubt he will be an asset to their investigation but will their on-again/off-again relationship effect their ability to work together?
John is in a difficult situation when Kate calls. Suspended from the bureau, he is certain of only one thing – he doesn’t want to be home alone. He isn’t certain helping Kate won’t ruin his already strained relationship with the powers that be at Criminal Apprehension. He doesn’t want to tell her about his suspension and he isn’t sure he wants to deal with the relationship – if you can call what they have a relationship. But he is inexorably drawn into the tangled web of this killer and the woman fighting him with everything she has.
Suspense fans will not be disappointed in this novel of how evil lurks in even the most peaceful of places. The crime is intriguing, the victims so sympathetic you feel as saddened as if they were real and you had actually known them. I found myself twisting and turning just as Kate did, trying to get a handle on something that seemed to have no meaning. The killer was frightening, at once so human and normal you couldn’t suspect him and so horrifyingly brutal you wondered how he could walk among us without everyone immediately knowing what he was. Even when the story ended a part of me couldn’t believe who had committed the crime and why.
There were some problems though. The entire time I was reading this book I was reminded of sinister gray days that are accompanied by a slow, incessant rain that quietly but swiftly floods your basement and makes you question if the sun had ever really existed – or if it was just a hallucination you had come up with. Kate seems pulled completely into the crime, and since much of the tale is told in the first person we are pulled into this dark, cloudy abyss with her. John too seems lost in dismal thoughts, unable to bring any levity to a very, very heavy situation. Their romance is even a bit cold, coming across more as two people in need than two people falling in love.
I also found myself growing a bit tired of Kate and John’s baggage. I know that it makes them far more interesting characters, but this time out I felt like I was lugging the luggage for them and it felt a bit wearying. I began to wonder how Kate was going to effectively do her job if she was going to let every crime yank her into her past.
This is book two of a series. I’ve read book one – in fact I’d recommend it to fans of suspense novels – and I would encourage people to start with Sworn to Silence . But you don’t have to read that to enjoy this one.
Though Pray for Silence has its imperfections, this is a first rate thriller. The mystery is cutting edge and Ms. Castillo doesn’t blink at taking a long, hard look at the violence that lies just beneath the surface of the human animal. While there may not be enough romance to satisfy romantic suspense fans, readers who enjoy a good mystery will find themselves well satisfied at the end of this one.