The Burning
July 3, 2024

Book Review

The Burning

reviewed by Pam Guynn

A dark and chilling winter scene immediately draws readers into the storyline in The Burning by Linda Castillo. This crime thriller and police procedural features Kate Burkholder, the chief of police in the small town of Painters Mill in Ohio. Set in the middle of Amish country, this sixteenth book in the series is somewhat darker than usual.

Kate and Tomasetti have only been married for a couple of months, but doesn’t stop the midnight call to her from dispatch when a suspicious fire and scream are seen and heard in the woods. A charred body is found that had been wired to a stake. Since the Amish prefer to handle their problems without interference from the outside world, gathering information about the deceased is difficult. When Kate’s brother is implicated, she finds herself clashing with both the Amish community and her counterparts in law enforcement.

The characterization is excellent, making each person come to life for me. 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. She has learned to delegate, likes to finish what she starts, is focused, hates the politics and media side of the job, and is respected by her officers. She’s loyal, driven, intelligent, has good instincts, and is courageous. Kate comes alive and it’s easy to connect with her and want her to succeed in finding the killer.

This novel is graphic in places and the murder descriptions are brutal and hard to read at times. 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 engaged with gripping scenes and a creative plot that built suspense. The story captivated me from beginning to end. The book did a great job bringing together historical events and current events within the storyline. Ms. Costillo is clearly a master at building tension and delivering exciting results that keep readers engaged. Themes include trust, transparency, conflict of interest, respect, secrets, murder, and complicated family and community relationships.

Overall, this book was briskly paced, suspenseful, and gripping. This novel should delight those readers that enjoy police procedurals, crime thrillers, and mysteries that have a strong female lead character. However, be aware that it is also unsettling at times. 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 thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently expected to be July 09, 2024.


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