Linda Castillo: Gone Missing (2012) Kate Burkholder 4

Gone Missing

Linda Castillo’s Gone Missing is the fourth in her Kate Burkholder series. It’s the first book I’ve read by this author but that wasn’t a problem. Castillo constructed the series in such a way that anyone can pick it up at any time without feeling lost. Downside of this approach is that some elements will be repetitive should one choose to read more of this author. But since this was my first, I was glad to learn a lot about Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her love interest Detective Tomasetti.

If you know the series, you know it has a very special setting, namely Ohio’s Amish Country. I’ve always been fascinated by the Amish (or any other religious group like them). Apart from being a very gripping read, this book offers a great introduction to the Amish way of life.  What is very important is the fact that Kate Burkholder was Amish. Whenever there is a crime in the Amish community, it’s likely other police forces will ask for her help. Not only because she knows the Amish but because she does speak Pennsylvania Dutch and therefore the Amish are much more likely to talk to her. I had never heard of Pennsylvania Dutch before and the sentences she included all through the book surprised me greatly. I thought it would be like Dutch, but no, not at all – it was almost the exact same language as Swiss. With the exception of a few words, I could understand it all.

A series of missing Amish teenage girls awakens the mistrust of the police. Something cannot be right. When they find blood on one of the locations where one of the girls was last seen, it’s clear that a crime has happened.

Burkholder and Tomasetti who work together on this case know that they have to be quick. The girls may still be alive and could be saved if they manage to find them in time.

The book starts with the suicide of an Amish girl, ten years before the other girls go missing. Once they dig deeper, they notice that there are a few cold cases of girls gone missing, some a long time ago. All these cases appear to be linked.

I can’t reveal too much or the book is spoilt. Just this much – they gather a lot of information and make good progress when suddenly they find out that the culprit might be someone they didn’t suspect at all and this puts them in great danger.

Kate is an interesting character. We learn why she left the Amish life and what has happened to her in the past that makes her so suspicious. Tomasetti is equally damaged and they try to take things very slowly. I thought they worked very well as a couple, both are appealing characters.

Because the case makes them visit a lot of different Amish families we read about different ways. Unfortunately all the Amish families have one thing in common – they are highly patriarchal, the father makes all the decisions.

All the girls go missing during their “rumspringa” – literally that would mean “jumping around”. It’s a time during which they are allowed to be “wild”, to drink, smoke and party before they have to decide whether they want to be baptised and follow the plain life or not.

I really liked the crime aspect and how it was solved and the characters as well, plus the Amish setting was informative and fascinating. I also enjoyed that Kate, having left the Amish, still feels somewhat nostalgic about her childhood and often not only mentions negative but very positive aspects of Amish life. What I liked less were a few cringe worthy passages towards the end when Burkholder speaks about “the blue brotherhood” (meaning the police force and how tight-knit they are)… Brrr. Shudder. Other than that it’s great.

I highly recommend to try the series. I thought Gone Missing was very well constructed and suspenseful. The solution was creepy and, thanks to a final twist, even chilling. For those not sure whether they would like it or not – there is a 60 page short story Long Lost available for the kindle, under 1$. I think it is set between Gone Missing and the next one in the series.

32 thoughts on “Linda Castillo: Gone Missing (2012) Kate Burkholder 4

  1. Finally a series that you can pick up at any point. Now I could get into that. And are you saying that you can actually speak Pennsylvania Dutch? Can you add it to your list? I find most religions pretty fascinating and this sounds like an interesting read. And I love a good mystery.

    • You can just look at the blurbs and choose for the story, I’d say.
      No, I can’t speak it but I guess they would understand me if I spoke Swiss and I could understand them, depending on how heavy the accent. It’s also closer to German than to Dutch. I didn’t do any research, so I have no clue where it comes from and why they call it “Dutch”.
      But, yes, you can add Swiss as it’s pretty different to German. 🙂

      • I actually don’t know much about the origins of Pennsylvania Dutch. I thought it referred to a Dutch population that moved there. But I think it refers to Germans and Swiss who moved there. Somewhat confusing 🙂

  2. Yes, Pennsylvania Dutch is a misnomer. It should actually be Pennsylvania “Deutsch,” as in German. They are mostly from Germany and Switzerland, as TBM stated.

    But I didn’t know there was a Swiss language per se–thought only French, German and Italian were spoken there?
    I tried watching a TV program about the Amish, but found it rather depressing. Women don’t seem to have many rights once they are married.

    • Very depressing, I agree. It was still interesting and as a crime story it worked well.
      I see where Dutch comes from In Swiss German means “Dütsch” …pretty close to Dutch. It was written wrong.
      Nobody speaks German in Switzerland. It’s Swiss that is spoken. Germans ususally don’t understand Swiss at all but you can’t write Swiss it’s a dalect that’s why the officical language is German. I speak German because my father being Frecnh learned German not Swiss but I speak Swiss as well. Luckily without accents in both languages.

  3. These days, at least in the USA and on television there seem top be be a lot of non fictional documentaries and reality shows Amish who decide to leave the traditional way of life. I believe that the documentary that Guy is referring to is among them. It is a neat idea to take this idea and mix it with a the mystery genre.

    • There are so many different aproaches to crime writing, while I prefer more literary forms, I like that when I read a police procedural that there’s a t least something interesting in the setting and that is the case here.
      I find some of the things the Amish do quite admirable. Live a simple life, produce their own food, … but that’s not all and everything else seems so extreme. I can’t blame anyone who leaves the way.

  4. What an intriguing-sounding series. I think the Amish are fascinating, too. I like crime to strike out in new directions, location-wise. I’m hoping to get around to Dana Stabenow’s series (I think that’s how her name is spelt) this summer – they are all set in Alaska.

    • I want my crime to be either very psychlogical, literary or gripping with an interesting setting. This falls in the third category. She did the suspense and the descriptions well.
      It’s a fascinating culture. I’ll have to look into Stabenow, thanks for the suggestion. Alaska is an interesting location as well.

  5. I think a lot of detective, either private or police force, often a stand alone series…you can choose any book.

    Amish life also makes me interested. I think they are an amazing people because I know I will never separate myself with modern world.

    Anyway, your last two paragraphs are really intriguing. You sure know how to makes people wondering

    • They are quite amazing although you do here a lot of negative things. In a yway I find it admirable they they can still produce everything themselves but they are very extreme and have zero tolerance.

  6. This looks like quite an interesting book and an interesting series, Caroline! I think getting to know about the Amish way of life through the novel would be quite interesting and eye-opening. I remember watching a couple of episodes in TV serials which involved Amish characters and they were quite interesting. I also remember a scene in a movie where a mother threatens her teenage daughter – ‘if you do this you will be grounded for life and you will lead a phoneless, dateless Amish existence’ 🙂 I didn’t know about Pennsylvania Dutch. It is interesting that it is very similar to Swiss. I thought that Swiss was a variant of German (and hence sometimes called Swiss German). I didn’t know that it was a totally different language. It was very enlightening to read your comments on that. It was also very interesting to discover through your comments on the origin of the word ‘Dutch’ in ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’. I will look for this series in the library. Maybe I will try to get hold of this part and the first part of the series. Thanks for this wonderful review.

    • My pleasure. I hope you will like it. :)I think it’s very special for a crime series and the case they have to solve was very gripping. The Amish are interesting and although I would certianly not want to live like they do, it’s interesting to read about them.
      Maybe I was a bit unclear. Swiss is a number of dialects, some are of alemannic, some of other origins which are quite different from German but they have never been standardized, so you cannot write them. The grammar is basic, not as elaborate as German. Dutch is a mix between English and German. Swiss has no English traces whatsoever.

      • I will try to get hold of a Kate Burkholder novel soon 🙂 Thanks for telling me more about Swiss. It looks like Swiss is an umbrella of languages which are all very different, which are grouped under one name. This is one really fascinating thing that I learnt in the last two days. I didn’t know that Dutch is a mix of English and German. That is really interesting!

        • Yes, it’s fairly easy to learn Dutch for Swiss people and for Germans. The words are either from the English or the German.
          I’m tempted to read another one of her novels now because it was really gripping and the ending was surprising. I’m so often disappointed by the end of crime novels. Not in this case. It was creepy.

  7. Interesting series.

    It’s always more intriguing when there’s a strong context for the crimes like Amish society, Hopis with Hillerman or Ancient China with Van Gulik. It adds something to the pleasure of reading a good story.

  8. I have her first book and started reading it, but the opening crime scene was just too graphic for me, so I set it aside. Normally I can read past most of that (and it’s not like I don’t read plenty of crime novels), but it must have just been the timing. I’m glad to hear, though, this is a series where you can drop in on any book–maybe I should try this one. I am not all that keen on the repetitive sorts of details–I think it would be less of a problem with this if I hadn’t read any of the other books as it would then just be filling in–but I just read the most recent Maisie Dobbs book, which I really liked but noticed the author added in lots of details from previous books which made me sort of impatient this time out. I think I would like her writing–certainly the unusual setting so will have to give her another go.

    • An opening that is too graphic can put me off as well.
      In this case it really wasn’t as the girls were missing. So it didn’t start with a murder.
      I’m tempted at them moment to try the first and will have to be prepared. On the other hand I love Karin Slaughter and she is quite graphic.
      The repetitions are annoying and even in this book, you knew, because she told it in a way that you knew it immediately. Still I thought it was an interesting setting and a gripping book.

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