“Her Last Breath” is the fifth and newest murder mystery by “New York Times” bestselling author, Linda Castillo, featuring Kate Burkholder, a former Amish woman and thirty-something chief of police of fictional town, Painters Mill, Ohio.
Amish man, Paul Borntrader, is en route home at dusk with his three young children, from a doctor’s visit, when his buggy is T-boned at an estimated eighty miles an hour. Paul, and his children Norah, and Sara, die at the scene. Eight-year-old David is critically injured.
The driver flees, leaving few clues other than an after market, three-quarter-inch L-pin and a side view mirror. Investigators believe the lack of skid marks indicates premeditated murder; and a 1996 Ford F-250 truck is the weapon.
Who wanted Paul Borntrager and his children dead? An Amish deacon, Paul helped excommunicate some of the Order’s members who’d gone astray. Could the Borntrager murders be revenge?
On duty, Kate responds to the emergency call; and realizes Paul is married to Mattie, her former best friend during her Amish youth. Kate painstakingly informs Mattie of her family’s fatal accident. The two haven’t spoken since Kate’s Amish defection at eighteen.
While Kate’s made her share of enemies since leaving her Amish roots to pursue a career in law enforcement, her heritage is an asset when investigating Amish-related crimes, since she’s able to speak their Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.
Kate’s distraught over the Borntrager murders; yet knows she needs to stay stoic and keep her objectivity during the investigation.
She calls John Tomasetti, a regional agent for the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. They’ve worked together on previous Amish-related murders, and their professional relationship transcended to romance.
John recently asked Kate to move in with him, a step she’s hesitant to take. He ups the ante when he purchases an old farmhouse located a half -hour from Painters Mill.
“That’s the thing about relationships; no matter how hard you try to keep things simple, all of those gnarly complexities have a way of seeping into the mix,” Kate says.
Amish teen, Daniel Lapp raped Kate when she was fourteen; and she shot him dead in revenge. Her secret risks exposure and her law enforcement career is in jeopardy, when two kids playing at the old Wilbur Seed Company grain elevator find his remains.
Kate experiences the other side of the law when authorities identify his skeleton and question her about his disappearance, since his last whereabouts place him at her family’s farm seventeen years ago.
During her book tours, Castillo talks about her transition from corporate America to author. She’s graduated from two citizens police academies, visited morgues and Amish country to hone her craft of writing entertaining murder mysteries, juxtapositioning the bucolic life of the Amish with crime.
Castillo complements her narrative with Amish sayings, including, “Wer lauert an der Wand, Heert sie eegni Schand,” which means, “If you listen through the wall, you will hear others recite your faults.”
“Her Last Breath” is another testament to Castillo’s writing talents.
Linda Castillo writes for, Minotuar Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing. Visit their link to discover many talented writers, including Brad Parks and Paul Doiron.