Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pray For Silence - Linda Castillo (Audio)


Several weeks ago, I reviewed Linda Castillo's first installment in the Kate Burkholder Amish murder mystery series, Sworn to Silence. For those of you who didn't get around to reading my thoughts, I was lukewarm on the whole experience. Interesting characters, bad dialogue, and a narrator probably not suited for this type of book. But I liked it enough to give the second book in the series a shot. So what was the consensus? I think I'm still in the game. But first, let me fill you in on the plot.

Synopsis: Eight months after the last book, when Chief of Police Kate Burkholder cracked a grisly serial murder case, she is back again with another mess on her hands. An Amish family of seven was brutally murdered, and in the case of the family's two teenage girls, tortured as well. This was a gentle family, and there are no leads or evidence whatsoever.

Until Kate discovers the journal of 15-year-old Mary, one of the murdered daughters. Soon Kate finds herself not only sucked into the dark world of a very scared teenager, but also suffers flashbacks of when she also an Amish girl who was in way over her head and suffered tragically.

Kate also calls in BCI Agent John Tomasetti for help, with whom she had a little fling in the last book. The fling continues, of course, but with serious, complicated undercurrents.

My thoughts: I'm not wholly sure if this plot line was improved from the last novel, or I'm just warming up to the familiarity of the characters, but I found less fault with Pray for Silence. I appreciated the devastating and slow reveal of Mary's life through her journal. I appreciated the ongoing sexual tension between Kate and John. And like the last story, we are allowed to peek inside the lives and customs of the Amish people.

Mind you, the details of the family's murder, including a baby, as well as Mary's "situation", was very graphic and not for the gentle-spirited. While it verged on gratuitous, it also seemed realistic for the circumstances. (I'm being slightly cryptic but I'm trying to be careful not to reveal "stuff").

The quirky supporting characters that I loved in the last book had less of a role in this one. They were only on the periphery, with most of the focus on Kate and John. But it was nice to see the familiar faces darting on and off stage.

Castillo did do her share of lecturing about basic forensic science, and this does get under my skin. I suppose if this is the first murder mystery you've read, you'd appreciate the lesson. But by now, 95% of the population knows that statistics of solving a crime after it has passed the 24 hour mark, and they understand the signs of homicide versus suicide. Every schmoe out there is a forensic expert at this point.

My lingering thought as I finished this installment was "how many serial or mass murderers can there be in a small Amish town, and how long can Castillo keep this up?". I'd say, by the next book or two, Castillo better change her game or we are all going to throw up our hands in disbelief. The setting is fascinating, I admit, but something's gotta give. I think Kate needs to move to Columbus to take up with Tomasetti, but that is just my vote.

A word about the audio production: Like I said in my previous post, the narrator, Kathleen McInerney, is a good narrator for women's fiction, but is not cut out for this genre. Her performance isn't horrible, but her portrayal of men's voices in particular are amateur. Her voice just doesn't exude the seriousness of the subject. I was sorry that she was back again to narrate the second installment, but I won't hold it against the book.

4 out of 5 stars






16 comments:

Julie P. said...

Maybe I'll give the first one a try!! I don't know if I could buy that same premise over and over again (although I do accept it for some cozies...)

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I really enjoyed reading an Amish murder mystery that I picked up at SIBA, but the nature of the book is far-removed from the graphic detail of the case in this Amish-set book, it seems. This culture is so fascinating to me and I love to get that insight into it, which sometimes can be the best part for me. I'd like to check this one out, but will probably skip the audio version of it. Thanks for the great review, Sandy!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I know what you mean - it's so funny when an author sets a murder series in a small town, and then has to live with the consequences, so to speak!

bermudaonion said...

I think I'd do better with this series in print. I have a feeling I'd enjoy it.

Zibilee said...

I also wonder how long this series can do the whole murder in Amish town thing, but do have to admit that these books have me curious. It's funny that you warmed up a bit towards the second book, when usually I find that books in a series tend to go downhill. I am glad to hear that you liked it, but I am hoping that the next installment is narrated by someone other than Kathleen McInerney!

caite said...

gee, I guess I am not "gentle-spirited"...lol

I agree, and think I mentioned in my own review of this book (but am too lazy to look) that the author has a big issue on her hands. Yes, one more grisly murder in that little town will be unbelievable...but I think the book will really lose a major plus if she changes the setting.
We will see....

Mystica said...

Maybe its like the series Midsomer Murders - one murder after another in a very scenic English village.

The Bumbles said...

Kinda like Murder She Wrote where everywhere Jessica Fletcher went, someone got murdered.

I am curious if you ever forgo an audio read for print due entirely to the narrator?

Anna said...

Hmm...I'm interested in the Amish aspect of this but the forensic details probably would get on my nerves.

Avid Reader said...

I've wondered the same thing about other series, how long can they keep this up? Sometimes it just seems like after 3 or so books it'll be stretching to keep it rolling.

Nise' said...

I posted by review of this book today as well! Great minds. I agree, how many murders can happen in this small Amish town? I will be reading the next book to see what happens next!

Trisha said...

One of your comments really made me think: When reading a series, how much do we overlook because of the ease of familiarity? Not that we don't like the book, but we do go in with some level of knowledge and comfort. Hmm...more time to process needed.

Jenners said...

I always love your reviews and your "tell it like it is" snarkiness. : )

And I agree with you ... there is only so far you can go with a small town Amish murders!

SuziQoregon said...

I thought the same thing -- How many brutal serial killers can one small town have? I'm interested in more stories with these characters, but it's got to move beyond the current setting and I'm curious to see how Castillo will handle it.

Iliana said...

I'd be moving out of that town :)
I know what you mean though - those small town mysteries kind of set themselves up to have to explain that in further installments.

I don't know about this book. I remember your other review of one of her books and the books seem quite graphic. I don't have a problem reading about violence but don't like it when you feel like the author is just doing it to see how far they can go.

Beth F said...

Arghhhhh. I've seen such mixed reviews on this series I don't know ... but like Julie, I tend to be more forgiving in my mysteries than I am in other genres.