by Linda Castillo, brings to life the Amish community in this
suspenseful murder mystery. The author explores the secrets
and lies within this group but also shows how the community
is very open-minded to those with handicaps.
The story opens with a brutal murder of an Amish grandmother.
Her granddaughter, a special needs little girl, has been kidnapped
with the younger sister a witness to everything. Police Chief
Kate Burkholder is called in to investigate. She has insights
into this tight-knit closed community because she is a former
Amish, having left the community as a teenager.
The author notes that “distrust is one of the themes.
Another thematic element I found myself returning to again
and again as I wrote the book is “shame.” Most
of us know that the Amish are a Christian based religious
culture. They embrace tradition and social order and a set
of rules known as “Ordnung” as set forth by their
leaders. They embrace marriage and children. Most believe
in separation from the rest of the world. As Anabaptists,
they believe in adult baptism. Yes, the Amish are a religious
society. They are good neighbors, and they are good friends.
All of that said, they are human, too, and as we all know,
human beings have frailties and weaknesses. Those are some
of the core elements that drew me to the “shamed”
theme of this novel.”
Readers experience the emotions with the characters as Kate
is in a race against time to find the killer. She must battle
an old Amish order that believes family is everything, and
tradition is upheld with an iron fist. As the killer is claiming
more victims, Castillo skillfully adds to the tension by having
at the beginning of each chapter, the number of hours the
child is missing. Everyone knows that the chances of recovering
her alive diminish rapidly with time. There are serious secrets
at work, and Kate has to discover the truth to save the girl
and find the killer.
The missing child is a huge element of the book. “I
can only imagine how agonizing it is for parents and loved
ones of that child. Law enforcement, too. Stranger kidnappings
are rare and dangerous. The statistics are horrifying. The
longer the child is missing, the more likely a negative outcome.
As a writer, I wanted to explore that dark journey through
the eyes not only of Kate Burkholder and her cohorts but the
parents and Amish community as well. I wanted the reader to
feel every tick of the clock with the same anxiousness and
terror as Kate and the parents.”
Shamed is a riveting story that readers will be unable
to put down. As with all her books, Castillo never seems to