“Her Last Breath” is the fifth and latest murder mystery from “New York Times” bestselling author Linda Castillo, featuring Kate Burkholder, a former Amish woman and thirtysomething police chief of the fictional town of Painters. Mill, Ohio.
Amish man, Paul Borntrader, was driving home at dusk with his three young children, after a visit to the doctor, when his stroller broke down at an estimated speed of eighty miles per hour. Paul and his children Norah and Sara are killed on the spot. Eight-year-old David is seriously injured.
The driver flees, leaving few clues aside from an aftermarket, three-quarter-inch L-pin, and a side-view mirror. Investigators believe the lack of tire marks indicates premeditated murder; and a 1996 Ford F-250 pickup is the weapon.
Who wanted Paul Borntrager and his children to die? As an Amish deacon, Paul helped excommunicate some of the Order’s members who had gone astray. Could the Borntrager murders be revenge?
On duty, Kate answers the emergency call; and she realizes that Paul is married to Mattie, her former best friend from her Amish youth. Kate thoroughly informs Mattie of her family’s fatal accident. The two have not spoken since Kate’s Amish defection at eighteen.
While Kate has earned 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, as she can speak their Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.
Kate is distraught over the Borntrager murders; however, she knows that she needs to remain stoic and maintain her objectivity during the investigation.
She calls John Tomasetti, a regional agent with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification. They have worked together on previous Amish-related murders, and their professional relationship blossomed into romance.
John recently asked Kate to move in with him, a step she is hesitant to take. She ups the ante when she buys an old farm house located half an hour from Painters Mill.
“That’s the thing with relationships; no matter how hard you try to keep things simple, all those twisted complexities have a way of looking at the mix,” says Kate.
Amish teenager Daniel Lapp raped Kate when she was fourteen; and she shot him dead in revenge. His secret is in danger of being exposed and his law enforcement career is in jeopardy when his remains are found by two kids playing in the old Wilbur Seed Company grain elevator.
Kate experiences the other side of the law when authorities identify her skeleton and question her about its disappearance, since its last whereabouts place it on her family’s farm seventeen years ago.
During her book tours, Castillo talks about her transition from corporate America to authorship. A graduate of two citizen police academies, she visited morgues and Amish country to hone her craft of writing entertaining mysteries, juxtaposing bucolic Amish life with crime.
Castillo supplements his narration 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 talent for writing.
Linda Castillo writes for Minotuar Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing. Visit her link to discover many talented writers, including Brad Parks and Paul Doiron.