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Investigating the brutal murders of an Amish family in quiet Painters Mill, Chief of Police and former Amish citizen Kate Burkholder teams up with state agent John Tomassetti and discovers a diary with a haunting personal connection, a case further complicated by past demons and a growing attraction. (Mystery & detective).
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Linda Castillo is the New York Times bestselling author of the Kate Burkholder novels, including Sworn to Silence and Breaking Silence, crime thrillers set in Amish country. She is the recipient of awards including the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, the Holt Medallion and a nomination for the RITA. Besides writing, Castillo’s other passion is horses, particularly her Appaloosa, George. She lives in Texas with her husband.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
“Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” --Benjamin Franklin
Officer Chuck “Skid” Skidmore wished he hadn’t indulged in that last cup of coffee. If it wasn’t for the new waitress at the diner, he would have stopped at just one. But damn she was cute. So he’d sat at the counter the entirety of his dinner break and sucked down caffeine like a ten-year old gorging on Kool-aid. Brandy obliged by keeping his mug full, and entertaining him with her twenty-something chit chat and a full two inches of jiggling cleavage.
He’d been eating at LaDonna’s Diner every night for two months now, since the chief assigned him the graveyard shift. He hated working nights. He respected the chief, but he was going to have to have a talk with her about getting back on days.
Skid turned his cruiser onto Hogpath Road, a desolate stretch of asphalt bounded by Miller’s Woods to the north and a cornfield on the south side. The cruiser’s tires crunched over gravel as he pulled onto the shoulder. He was reaching for the pack of Marlboro Lights in the glove box when his radio crackled.
“Three two four. Are you 10-8?”
Mona was the third shift dispatcher and his sole source of entertainment—after the diner closed, anyway. She’d kept him from dying of boredom many a night. “Roger that, Dispatch.”
“So did you talk to her?”
“You ask her out?”
Throwing open his door to keep the smell of smoke out of the cruiser, Skid lit the Marlboro. “I don’t see how that’s any of your business.”
“You’re the one who’s been talking about her for the last two months.”
“She’s too young for me.”
“Since when does that make a difference?”
“You’re tying up the radio.”
Mona laughed. “You’re chicken.”
Wishing he’d never told her about his crush on Brandy, he drew on the cigarette. “Whatever.”
“Are you smoking?”
He mouthed the word shit.
“You said you were going to quit.”
“I said I was going to either quit drinking or smoking. I sure as hell ain’t going to do both in the same week.” He sucked in a mouthful of smoke. “Especially when I’m stuck working nights.”
“Maybe the chief’s still pissed about that old lady you roughed up.”
“I didn’t rough her up. That old goat was drunk out of her mind.”
“She was sixty-two years old—”
“And naked as a jaybird.”
Mona giggled. “You get all the good calls.”
“Don’t remind me. The sight of her wrinkled ass has damaged me for life.” He sighed, his bladder reminding him why he’d stopped in the first place. “I gotta take a piss.”
“Like I need to know that.” She disconnected.
Grinning, Skid got out of the cruiser. The crickets went silent as he walked around to the bar ditch. Dry cornstalks crackled in a light breeze. Beyond, a harvest moon cast yellow light onto the tall grain silo and barn roof of an Amish farm. It was so quiet, he could hear the cacophony of frogs from Wildcat Creek a quarter mile to the south. Skid relieved himself and tried not to think about the long night ahead. Yeah, he was going to have a talk with the chief. Get back on days. He’d had enough of this vampire-hours shit.
He was zipping up when a distant sound snagged his attention. At first he thought maybe a calf was bawling for its cow. Or maybe a dog had been hit by a car. But when the sound came again, he realized it wasn’t either of those things. It was a man’s scream. Looking out across the cornfield, he felt the hairs at his nape stand straight up.
Skid rested his hand on the .38 strapped to his hip. He scanned the field beyond where the corn whispered and sighed. Another scream sent a chill scraping up his spine. “What the hell?”
Yanking open the door of the cruiser, he leaned in and flicked on the strobes, then pulsed the siren a couple of times. He hit his lapel mike. “Mona, I’m out here at the Plank farm. I’ve got a 10-88.” They used the ten-code radio system at the Painters Mill PD. Ten-eighty-eight was the code for suspicious activity.
“What’s going on?”
“Some crazy shit’s screaming his head off.”
“Well that’s strange.” She went silent for a moment. “Who is it?”
“I don’t know, but I think it’s coming from the house. I’m going to check it out.”
Back in his cruiser, Skid turned into the long gravel lane that would take him to the house. The Planks were Amish. Generally, the Amish community was quiet and kept to themselves. Most were up before the sun and in bed before most folks finished their supper. Skid couldn’t figure one of them out this time of night, raising hell. Either some teenager on rumspringa—their “running around” time before joining the church—was drunk out of his head, or there’d been an accident.
He was midway down the lane when a figure rushed from the shadows. Skid braked hard. The cruiser slid sideways, missing a man by inches. “Holy shit!”
The man scrambled around the front of the cruiser, hands on the hood, eyes as big as baseballs. Skid didn’t recognize him, but the full beard and flat-brimmed hat told him the guy was Amish. Setting his hand on his .38, Skid rammed the shifter into Park and got out of the cruiser. “What the hell are you doing? I almost hit you.”
The man was breathing hard, shaking harder. In the moonlight, Skid saw sweat glistening on his cheeks, despite the October chill, and he wondered if the guy was high on drugs. “Mein Gott!”
Skid didn’t understand Pennsylvania Dutch, the Amish dialect, but he didn’t need to be fluent to know the guy was terrified. He didn’t know what he’d walked into. The one thing he was certain of was that he wasn’t going to let this cagey-looking sumbitch get any closer. As far as he knew the guy was on crack and armed with a machete. “Stop right there, partner. Keep your hands where I can see them.”
The Amish man put his hands up. Even from ten feet away Skid could see his entire body trembling. His chest heaved. It was tears—not sweat—that glistened on his cheeks. “What’s your name?” Skid asked.
“Reuben Zimmerman!” he choked.
The Amish man’s eyes met his. Within their depths, Skid saw fear and the sharp edge of panic. The man’s mouth worked, but no words came.
“You need to calm down, sir. Tell me what happened.”
Zimmerman pointed toward the farmhouse, his hand shaking like a flag in a gale. “Amos Plank. The children. There is blood. They are dead!”
The guy had to be out of his mind. “How many people?”
“I do not know. I saw . . . Amos and the boys. On the floor. Dead. I ran.”
“Did you see anyone else?”
Skid’s gaze went to the darkened farmhouse. The place was silent and still. No lantern light in the windows. No movement. He hit his lapel mike. “Mona, I’ve got a possible 10-16 out here.” A 1-16 was the code for a domestic problem. “I’m going to take a look.”
“You still out at the Plank place?”
“You want me to call the sheriff’s office and get a deputy out there?”
“I’m going to check it out first. Will you run Reuben Zimmerman through LEADS for me?” LEADS was the acronym for the Law Enforcement Automated Data System police departments used to check for outstanding warrants and BOLO, cop speak for Be on the Lookout.
“Roger that.” Computer keys clicked. “Be careful, will you?”
“You got that right.”
Anxious to get to the scene, Skid approached the Amish man. “Turn around and put your hands against the car, partner.”
Zimmerman looked bewildered. “I did not do anything wrong.”
“It’s procedure. I’m going to pat your down. The handcuffs are for your protection and mine. All right?”
As if realizing he didn’t have a choice, Zimmerman turned and set his hands against the cruiser. Quickly, Skid ran his hands over the man, checking pockets, socks, even his crotch. Then he snapped the cuffs into place. “What are you doing here at this time of night?”
“I help with the milking. Work begins at 4 A.M.”
“And I thought I had bad hours.”
The Amish man blinked.
“Never mind.” Opening the cruiser door, Skid ushered him into the back seat. “Let’s go.”
Sliding behind the wheel, he put the cruiser in gear and started toward the house. In the rear view mirror, dust billowed in the red glow of the taillights. Ahead, a massive barn and silo stood in silhouette against the pre-dawn sky. The postcard perfect farm was the last place Skid expected any kind of trouble. He’d lived in Painters Mill for going on four years now. Aside from a few minor infractions—like that time two teenaged boys got caught racing their buggies down Main Street—the Amish were damn near perfect citizens. But Skid had been a cop long enough to know there was always an exception to the rule.
He parked behind a buggy, his headlights reflecting off the slow-moving-vehicle sign mounted at the rear. To his right, the...
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Book Description Thorndike Press, 2010. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P111410427862
Book Description Thorndike Press, 2010. Hardcover. Condition: New. Lrg. Seller Inventory # DADAX1410427862
Book Description Thorndike Press, 2010. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1410427862