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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Fallen: A Novel of Suspense by Linda Castillo

Castillo's Amish setting is intriguing, I didn't see the resolution of the mystery coming, and I was kept engaged while listening to narrator Kathleen McInerney.

A rebellious young woman who left her Amish culture behind and became estranged from her family has returned to Painters Mill, Ohio. But her homecoming ends almost immediately in tragedy: she is brutally murdered in a motel on the outskirts of town.

Chief of police Kate Burkholder, who was once part of the local Amish community herself, is called in and is shocked to identify the victim as Rachael Schwartz, a fun-loving, mischievous free spirit Kate babysat years earlier.

The crime against Rachael is so vicious as to seem personal, and Kate must try to determine why Rachael returned to town, uncover her buried secrets, and figure out who would have wanted her dead.

I listened to the audiobook version of this book--the first I've read in Castillo's thirteen-book Kate Burkholder series (all of the books are set in Amish country), although they've been on my to-read list for a long time. I wondered if it was fair of me to first dive into the story so late in the series, but in an illuminating interview between Castillo and her longtime narrator Kathleen McInerney, Castillo noted that each book is meant to stand alone, while readers following the books in order will note character development over time.

I thought the characters sometimes seemed slow to catch on to the implications of events, but the story kept a steady pace. Brutal violence is at the heart of the mystery--and there's enough bashing people over the head that it seems unlikely the injured party could possibly survive. But Castillo's Amish setting is intriguing, I didn't see the mystery's resolution coming, and I was kept engaged while listening to narrator Kathleen McInerney's German dialect given to the Amish characters.

The title Fallen seems to refer to Rachael's fall from grace, but the matter of determining who is pure and deserving of grace, who is forgivably faulted, and who is seemingly respectable yet driven by desperation to commit murder is more complex and surprising than it initially seems.

I received a prepublication audiobook of this title courtesy of Macmillan Audio and NetGalley.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Did you know that Ohio (the setting of this book) has the highest population of Amish adherents? I didn't, until I listened to an interview with the author Linda Castillo!

If you like books featuring female detectives, you might like Paula McLain's When the Stars Go Dark, about a missing persons detective coping with her own tragedy; the historical fiction story A Curious Beginning; or the campy Finlay Donovan Is Killing It.


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