Linda Castillo
July 13, 2023

Linda Castillo is the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Kate Burkholder mystery series, set in the world of the Amish. The first book, Sworn to Silence, was adapted into a Lifetime original movie titled An Amish Murder starring Neve Campbell as Kate Burkholder. Castillo is the recipient of numerous industry awards including a nomination by the International Thriller Writers for Best Hardcover, a nomination for the Mystery Writers of America’s Sue Grafton Memorial Award and a nomination for an “Audie Award” for best mystery audiobook. Her work has appeared on numerous bestseller lists and earned a spot on the Boston Globe’s shortlist for best crime novel.

Interview by Elise Cooper


Q  In An Evil Heart, there’s so much wonderful detail and mayhem. Why a crossbow weapon?

Linda: I never did fire a crossbow but did speak to my neighbor who is a hunter and had used a crossbow. I read a lot of stories about it and saw some videos. In the UK people have been shot or murdered using this weapon. I thought it is an interesting and unusual choice of weapon. The bolts are incredibly powerful, fast, and accurate. The broadhead tip could graze and nick someone to cause injury. The bolt (arrow) has tremendous velocity and can penetrate bone and even go through it.


Q The murder scene was wonderfully horrific. Tell us more.

Linda: When I first wrote that scene, I wrote it as a shooting. It felt a little familiar and I decided to dig deeper. I started looking at different crimes and happened upon the crossbow weapon. I chose the broadhead bolt because the tip of it has four wings which will cause a tremendous wound. Instead of a wound there will be four slits in the shape of a cross. It cannot be pulled out but to get it out it must go all the way through.


Q Also interesting was that the Amish person was riding a bike, not a buggy?

Linda: They do. I had lunch with an Amish man in 2019. He rides his bike everywhere. I got the idea from him. I wanted to make the story a little bit different, fresher, yet accurate.


Q Do you ride a bike to get the description you wrote about in the book?

Linda: I used to, but not where we live now in rural country. When we lived in Dallas my husband and I rode bikes all the time. I did write the description from my experience of being able to cover ground a lot faster.


Q How would you describe the killer?

Linda: They were cruel and wanted to cause pain. They are calm and confident. The killing was targeted, planned, and cold blooded. There were strange motivations so inwardly they did not take away all the blame.


Q How would you describe Aden, the victim?

Linda: He appears to be an enigma. The first couple of chapters describe him as an outstanding citizen, bright, and kind. A typical Amish young man about to embark on his life. Pretty early in the book Kate starts to realize there is something else going on and not everything is as it appears. She recognizes that this guy has secrets with a dark side. I explore the question of how someone’s lifestyle could put themselves into a situation that leads to a bad end.


Q In the last couple of books do you explain more about the steps of a homicide investigation, which makes the story more interesting?

Linda: It was not intentional, but I did want to get the police procedural aspect correct. I did in the last couple of books spend a good bit of time on the investigation. Part of the reason is that they were difficult investigations. Even though I am the writer and know the answer I must go through the struggle of going through the crime. I want it to be reasonable and credible, not coming out of left field. I hope readers enjoy this.


Q Readers get to understand more about Tomasetti the cop. Tell us about him.

Linda: He is strong, obsessive, intense, direct, and driven. His experience tells him what will happen and causes him to be cynical. I also went into his backstory more. What happened to him was a life alternating event. He has come very far and has grown since the first book in the story. Readers learn where his family is buried when he takes Kate there. This helps them to get closure. It was a very satisfying scene for me to write.


Q Readers also find out a little more about Kate’s sister Sarah. What can you say about her?

Linda: She is traditional, a peacekeeper, an optimist, a diplomat, and they are getting closer. Because of the darkness with the story, I wanted to add some lightness and comfort, which was Sarah. For example, the scene with the wedding dress. Kate must take off her gun to get measured for the dress. Kate told Sarah how uncomfortable she was with some of the things on the wedding dress and said she wants to brighten it up more. Sarah came up with the idea of the sash because she is smart enough and kind enough to read between the lines. They had good common ground. I think this is an important scene.


Q Why do you think that was an important scene?

Linda: Kate is coming to acknowledge that she is not Amish but still can have an important relationship and be close to her family. She is not turned off to her Amish heritage. She chose a middle ground for her wedding between the Amish and English worlds by getting married in a Mennonite wedding. In the end, this is the message of that wedding dress scene and the wedding scene. The wedding scene where the bishop came was also important. When Kate was young, she had a love/hate relationship with him. Throughout this entire series he has been a hard man to her sometimes. Yet, it meant something for him to show up at her wedding as a friend, not as the bishop.


Q What’s next?

Linda: The working title is The Burning and should be out in early July next year. Kate must adjust to being married but is feeling the tick of the biological clock, of having a baby. She has always envisioned herself with family. But in the next several books she must balance being married and being a Police Chief in a high-risk profession. The murder in the next book is centered around the birth of the Anabaptist reformation movement. The Amish were burned, drowned, hanged while being persecuted.

Review by Elise Cooper

An Evil Heart by Linda Castillo is once again another home run. She blends an intense crime mystery with some light-hearted scenes and detailed insight about the Amish community.

The story opens with twenty-year-old Aden Karn being violently killed with a crossbow. He was well-liked, kind, funny, hardworking, and engaged to be married. Now Kate Burkholder, Painters Mills police chief, must find his killer. But as she delves into Karn’s past, Kate begins to hear whispers about a dark side and wonders if Aden Karn wasn’t the wholesome young man everyone admired.

Then there are the scenes that show Kate is getting ready to wed her longtime love, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent John Tomasetti. She is trying to make amends with her family after leaving the Amish community. Now readers see how her family is also reconciling her departure from their culture and is willing to participate in the wedding celebration.

The gripping scenes that include family, jealousy, lies, betrayal, and friendship will have readers turning the pages at a brisk pace.

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