Jean's Reviews > Among the Wicked

Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo
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it was amazing

One of my reservations about Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series has been that there seem to be an inordinate number of murders occurring among the Amish in the area around the small town of Painters Mill, Ohio. In Among the Wicked, the eighth of the series, Castillo skirts that issue when Chief Burkholder agrees to go undercover in upstate New York to investigate the suspicious death of a teenage Amish girl. Local law enforcement personnel have been unable to make any headway in the case due to the suspicions fostered by the strict bishop who takes a hard line on Amish-English relationships.

Fearing for her safety, Kate’s lover BCI Agent John Tomasetti argues against her accepting the case. But Kate is a dedicated officer with a strong commitment to finding answers to end a threatening situation, even at risk to her own life. As a fellow lawman, Tomasetti understands this; as a loving partner, he is scared. Truthfully, so is Kate, but she forges ahead. It’s been eighteen years since she donned Amish garb and lived the plain life. How will she feel? Can she pull it off without tipping her hand?

Taking the name of Kate Miller, she quickly meets members of the Amish community. She finds some of them to be warm and welcoming – to a point. There are some things they refuse to discuss, such as the death of Rachel Esh or their concerns about the bishop, Eli Shrock. Will Kate eventually manage to find anyone who will confide in her about the girl’s death? What about Bishop Shrock? There are those who seem in awe of him – or is it fear? Others are openly disdainful, but they are few. Can Kate get them to talk? Or will Tomasetti’s concerns be realized?

Although she is posing as a childless widowed Amish woman, Kate is not entirely off the grid. She has a cell phone, which she is able to charge in her rustic rental trailer. She also has a couple of handguns. She checks in daily with local sheriff, Dan Suggs and New York BCI senior investigator Frank Betancourt. Other than that, though, she’s on her own. Having never gone undercover, she must rely on her experience as a former Amish person, and on her investigative training and her instincts.

Kate has several late night forays into the woods to the site where Rachel’s body was found and to Shrock’s property, where she learns some surprising things. Will these discoveries come back to haunt her? Upstate New York in the winter is cold, snowy, and unfriendly. I love when the setting plays a role in the story, and this is something that Castillo does well.

Not all of Kate’s discoveries are bad, however. Among the women of the sewing circle – which made me chuckle because Kate cannot sew – she finds community and friendship that she hadn’t even realized she was missing. It brought me back to my high school and college years when I was involved in church groups. The women kindly overlook her sewing shortcomings and even seem to forgive her overt curiosity and tend to be gossipy and neighborly.

Back to the question about danger – in each of the Burkholder novels so far, Kate has managed to get herself in and out of jams. So it came as no surprise to me when her poking and prodding got her into more than one fix. There is one whopper of a twist, however, that I didn’t see coming, making Among the Wicked perhaps one of my favorite Burkholder novels yet.

5 stars

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Reading Progress

April 29, 2016 – Shelved
April 29, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
September 23, 2016 – Started Reading
September 27, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Christine (new)

Christine Wow, best of 8? That's saying a lot, especially since most series are getting a little worn by book 8. Glad to hear this. I am ready for book 2!

message 2: by Frances (new)

Frances Looking forward to reading this one Jean!

message 3: by Jazz (new)

Jazz I haven't tried this series yet though I've collected a number of titles at book sales. I suppose it should be read in order?

Diane S ☔ Loved your review. Enjoyed this one too.

message 5: by Pat (new) - added it

Pat I stopped reading this serie, but think I need to give it another chance after reading your review. Good review.

message 6: by Petra (new)

Petra Thanks for the recommendation, Jean. I haven't read any of these, but I remember watching a movie that was based on the first book I think. Great review.

Jean While it generally helps to read a series in order, this one could probably be read as a standalone. I like that Castillo takes Kate in a different direction in this book. Yes, she's sort of going back to her roots, but she's never done undercover work before, so in that sense, it's unknown territory. That added a different sense of danger and interest from the other books in the series.

message 8: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Excellent review, Jean!!

Mary Beth *Traveling Sister* Wonderful review Jean! I loved this book also. It definitely was a five star book for me.

message 10: by Jean (last edited Nov 18, 2016 09:16AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jean Thanks, Deanna and Mary. I think that the series is limited in its premise: a formerly Amish woman police chief in a small town who is often the liaison between the English and Amish communities when it comes to solving crimes...crimes that often involve Amish citizens. So it must be challenging to come up with believable plots. I think Castillo did a great job with this one.

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