Monday, August 27, 2012

Gone Missing, by Linda Castillo

It is a busy time of the year for educators and Early Head Start is no exception.  My consultant friends and I have been busy aligning our Early Head Start School Readiness Goals with our assessment instrument and our curriculum--FOR INFANTS AND TODDLERS NO LESS!!--but it's largely completed and the teachers have received pre-service training according to all the bureaucratic requirements of our funding source and our state government. 

I'm hopeful this may enhance the teachers' understanding of developmental milestones and give them some cultural capital needed to participate in the debates over education during these challenging times.  I still have to develop several implementation plans, educate parents on what we are trying to do and get them engaged in the process and write the continuation federal grant.  BIG SIGH......

I've often commented to friends, facetiously, that murder and blues elevate my mood--by this, I mean reading an engrossing mystery and listening to some down and dirty blues, or R and B, make me feel better.  Go figure.  This may be one reason I so enjoyed forgetting everything this past weekend and reading a hard boiled mystery set incongruously in Amish Country.

Gone Missing, by Linda Castillo.  Minotaur Books. 2011. 277 pages.

Police Chief Kate Burkholder knows the Amish culture in Ohio where she presides over a small police department in a generally peaceful, rural region.  Burkholder grew up Amish but rebelled in her teens and left the culture and life style behind.  But, when Amish teenagers begin to disappear, Buckholder is the person called in to consult on the case.  It is lagniappe that this allows her to work again with State Agent John Tomasetti with whom she has a burgeoning romance.  Soon the case takes on alarming and dark overtones, and young women's lives are at stake.  Will Kate find them in time?
This is a hard-boiled mystery rather than a feel good cozy.  The setting may be Amish country, but there is evil and insanity lurking among these peaceful, aloof folk.  Sometimes the police deductions seem slow, but the pacing of the plot makes this a page turner.  The book also taught me something about Amish culture, e.g. the existence of "Rumspringa," a time before baptism when Amish teens are allowed to experience the life of the "English" culture without rules. 
There are three earlier books in this series, and I read this last book in the sequence before the others because a friend gave me the book.  I think I would now like to read the first book in the series to get additional background and back story on the recurring characters and the setting.  It's certainly not a typical "Amish mystery."
Has anyone else read this series?  What did you think? 


  1. I haven't read any of this series, but your review certainly catches my interest. I've read several books that mention Rumspringa, and find the tradition intriguing. How would it feel to experience a culture with a completely different value system after having been brought up in a society so different? I don't think it is surprising that so many teens opt for the faith in which they were raised rather than the freedom offered. It must be a bit horrifying to see some of the things that go on in the majority of society after having such a strict and sheltered upbringing.

  2. I've read the first book in the series as well as Gone Missing, and I enjoyed both of them. Not what you expect in Amish country, is it? :-)

  3. No, Cathy, it isn't but I think that's why I enjoyed it, a collision of worlds in a sense.