Saturday, March 6, 2021

A Simple Murder: A Kate Burkholder Short Story Collection by Linda Castillo


I read the first novel in the Kate Burkholder series Sworn to Silence years ago, and it was unlike anything I'd read before. A former Amish woman who has left the community and Amish life, returns to her hometown as the Chief of Police. It was dark, twisty, and impossible to put down. Since then, this series has grown to over ten novels, but I had only kept to reading the first one, until this week. 

I found this short story collection featuring Kate Burkholder, and decided it was just what I needed to dip back into this series. I also wanted to read some shorter stories, so it was perfect timing. 

I'm of two minds with this collection: you either read it, having read one or more of the books in the series, or read it without having read anything. Having some of the backstory will certainly help fill in some of the spaces in each story; however, I can see a reader becoming intrigued enough not knowing Kate's backstory to read these, then immediately dive into the first book in the series to learn more. It's really a reader's preference. 

Each story is about 100-125 pages long. They range from a vicious hit and run on an Amish teenager to a newborn baby left on the steps of the Amish Bishop's front porch, to the case of a long missing young woman who supposedly haunts a bed and breakfast. Each features Kate and the town of Painters Mill, Ohio-a mix of modern and Amish families and communities. Kate walks the line between both, and uses her knowledge of the Amish community and language to help solve cases. 

The stories were interesting, easy to get into, and while not terribly hard to figure out, a few did have some surprises. An enjoyable short story collection when you just need a little mystery. Perfect for traveling or reading on your lunch break at work. All of the Kate Burkholder mysteries are in print and also available in ebook and audio. 

Rating: 4/6 for a satisfying short story mystery collection that shows the complexities in the Amish-English community, and a woman who must keep one foot in each in order to keep everyone safe. 

Available in mass market paperback, ebook, and audio. 

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