A Gathering of Secrets is the tenth full-length novel in Linda Castillo’s now classic Kate Burkholder series. Castillo continues to impress with the way she is able to merge Amish life with realistic criminal activity. Many outsiders – or Englishers, as they would call us – imagine Amish life to be idyllic and free of the stresses of crime, but that is simply not the case. In her latest novel, Linda Castillo demonstrates that clash in the most topical manner possible.
As is standard for the series, Kate Burkholder is called in to help with the investigation of a crime – in this particular case, it is the burning of a family barn that also resulted in the death of eighteen-year-old Daniel Gingerich. What at first seemed like a horrific accident quickly becomes a case of murder.
This entry in the series follows a more standard police procedural format, as readers follow along as one clue or interview leads Kate Burkholder to the next revelation. Before long, it is clear that many people are holding secrets. But why? It is difficult to talk about those plot developments without straying into spoiler territory, but the prior suicide of an Amish girl factors into Kate’s case. Readers will almost certainly anticipate certain pieces of the overall puzzle, but the ultimate truth is not nearly as simple as the inclusion of that timely element.
As she has done with each entry in this series, Linda Castillo educates as she entertains. The details about the various sects within the Amish community are nothing short of fascinating. Uses of Pennsylvania Dutch occur, but always in a context were readers can follow along with what is being said, expanding ones vocabulary.
The interactions between Castillo’s characters feel so authentic that readers would not be surprised to run into any of them down at the local farmer’s market. Additionally, the relationship dynamic between Kate Burkholder and her beau, John Tomasetti, continues to evolve in complicated ways. Theirs is really one of the most realistic of on-going adult couplings that can be found in crime fiction. When this current case affects Kate in unexpected ways – bring up traumatic memories from her past life before she left the Amish lifestyle behind – it is the stead-fast and comforting presence of Tomasetti that makes all the difference.
Like all of Linda Castillo’s books, A Gathering of Secrets is a solid and entertaining reading experience. The writing style flows easily and while the current investigation has many threads, readers will have no problems following along. New releases in this series are a constant that fans anticipate each year – and this is largely because Linda Castillo never disappoints.