Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Sworn To Silence by Linda Castillo

It must be incredibly frustrating for an author to come up with a cracking idea for a storyline, sweat blood and tears getting it all down on paper, only to realise that somebody else has had almost exactly the same idea at the same time. Having just read and thoroughly enjoyed The Crucifix Killer by Chris Carter (see my review here), I had more than a slight sense of déjà vu when I started reading this novel. All of the major elements of the plot are identical - a series of horrific murders are uncovered which all bear the signature of a serial killer who wreaked havoc over a decade ago; the killer's signature is a set of ritualistic symbols carved into his victims' bodies; the lead investigating officer is sure that it can't be the same murderer as before because he was responsible for his death at the end of the investigation - but what if they'd got the wrong person ?

Despite expecting the story to follow more or less the same path as The Crucifix Killer, I was absolutely hooked and on the edge of my seat within a few pages. Yes, there are similarities but there also huge differences, most importantly the lead character, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder, and the setting in a largely Amish community.

Kate Burkholder is a character full of conflicts and contrasts - she is a woman in a traditionally male role, working in a macho professional environment as Chief of Police. She was brought up Amish before turning her back on this community as a teenager. She is both the cat and mouse in this pursuit, simultaneously chasing and being chased by the killer. Her job is to protect people and track down criminals but she also has first hand experience of being a killer/rapist's prey, not to mention a killer herself. This all goes to create a very complex, multi-layered character and a hugely flawed but very likeable central character.

The insight into the Amish community is fascinating and Castillo's characters - even the minor ones, like the police receptionist hooked on TV crime shows - all have depth and complexity. The story is unpredictable, even if I must admit to working out the killer's identity slightly before the end, and the pace is unrelenting.

It's been a while since a book has kept me up into the small hours of the morning and made me forgo a few evenings of television but this one certainly did. If you only manage to read one book this year, you could do a lot worse than choosing this one.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Macmillan (5 Jun 2009)

ISBN-10: 0230736408
ISBN-13: 978-0230736405

star rating : 5/5 (shame I can't go higher !)


  1. reply from the author Linda Castillo :

    Hi Cheryl—

    Thank you for the lovely review on your blog. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the book. Kate and Tomasetti will return in the second book (tentatively titled PRAY FOR SILENCE) which will be released in July of 2010.

    oooh definitely one to watch out for !

  2. yeah you are right, this is a excellent new thriller, I take a little read of this book, seriously this something new , the plot is different to other of this style, thank to you I have something to read.

  3. I had read it already an its very nice. I'm planning to grab another copy of it,I'm gonna give it as a Christmas gift to my especial friend who is really fond of reading and collecting books. i guess quality books like this is such a nice gift to give this holiday seasons.

  4. It is a pity when there are two or more author that they have almost the same topic or plot in their book. we hope that it just coincidence.

  5. What a storyline! Chief of Police, Katie Burkholder in Painters Mill, Amish country; who would have guessed? Sworn to Silence is chock full of chills, suspense and flawed, interesting characters! I love a strong female lead and a wonderful beginning that won't let me put the book down!!