An Evil Heart
reviewed by Pam Guynn
The sights and sounds of a beautiful autumn morning greet readers in An Evil Heart by Linda Castillo. However, as the fifteenth book in the Kate Burkholder mystery thriller and police procedural series gets underway, those same readers will likely be surprised by what happens next.
This series features Painters Mill, Ohio, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder who investigates the death of a young Amish man, Aden Karn. He’s well-liked, funny, hardworking, and engaged to Emily Byler. Did he have a dark side or is something else happening in the community?
Besides being the chief of police, Kate is trained as an emergency medical technician. She’s intelligent, has good instincts, and wants to repair her relationships with her family. Tomasetti, the man she will be marrying soon, is obsessive and intense when he’s on a case. He works for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and they met when he assisted on one of her cases.
The author takes readers on a journey through the life of Aden Karn from his family dynamics to his girlfriend and her family, his co-workers, and those who he spent time with. Additionally, Castillo seamlessly blends Kate’s personal life and events into the story line. Kate shows some growth in this novel as her wedding approaches and she interacts with her family and friends.
The characterization is excellent, making the numerous characters come to life for me making it easy to keep track of them. Readers of the series will be familiar with many of them. One thing that struck me as slightly odd was the number of nicknames for officers on Kate’s investigation team.
The descriptive narrative transported me to Kate and her team’s suspenseful investigation. The plot twists worked well and the ending was action-packed. Ms. Castillo is an excellent storyteller who kept me turning the pages with gripping scenes and a creative plot that built suspense. This novel shines light on law enforcement cooperation, family, jealousy, lies, betrayal, friendship, death, and the darker side of some communities.
While the novel works well as a standalone, readers will be able to better appreciate Kate’s full background if the series is read in order. Readers should also be aware that there are some disturbing scenes in the book.
Overall, this book was briskly paced, suspenseful, and gripping. This novel should delight those readers that enjoy police procedurals and mysteries that have a strong female lead character. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.
St. Martin’s Press – Minotaur Books and Linda Castillo provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently set for July 11, 2023.
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