Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo(5 out of 5)
It’s no secret to friends of mine that I love Amish mysteries- Amish anything, for that matter(remember, younglings, I almost moved to Lancaster, PA, in 1994). The lovely Liz V from Crown Books got me into Linda Castillo, although it wasn’t the Kate Burkholder Amish mysteries, it was an earlier series. I ran into these when I started at Babs’. I like the fact that there is no pussy-footing around in any of the books, Kate is a very real heroine with very real problems, and even better yet, her own colored past. She also left the Amish order as a young girl, and has split the order(can you call it an order? I choose to) in two- some people regard her with ill-concealed disgust, others with hard-earned respect. Anyway, this is a series of books, however, they could be read independently. I like Kate, her cast of supporting policeman, and her troubled but charismatic boyfriend, fellow Ohioan detective John Tomasetti.
This time around, a father and his two children are killed in a mysterious, more brutal than normal buggy accident in Painters Mill. Of course, Kate is called in on the case. It’s a harder than normal case, as the victims are the husband and children of her former best friend Mattie. During this time, Kate’s own long-buried past threatens to come back on her with a vengeance. Mattie’s grieving of her husband and children seems off somehow, and Kate continues to push for answers after some evidence surfaces that means the accident was premeditated and Mattie may have been the actual target of the crime. Mattie and Kate’s former friendship undergoes some major upheaval in the current light of her losing her family and Kate’s nagging feelings that all is not as it appears to be with her former best friend. Tomasetti continues to press Kate for an actual commitment to him, and tries to convince her to commit to him and move in with him. This is all going down the same time that Kate is attempting to cover up her own ugly past and uncover Mattie’s secrets. Things get ugly and twisted pretty quick, and when it finally comes down to what happened and who was behind the deaths, you are struck speechless. I was! I had no idea that it was rolling in that direction and that the way it was plotted and carried out was so disturbing that I had to set the book down and try to read the ?uestlove book to decompress. Wow. What an amazing ending. What a disturbing reveal. It is everything and more than you can hope for. You need to read this book. Even if you haven’t read the other 4 prior to this, you won’t be sorry that you have picked this one up.
Mattie? What a piece of psychological work. And Tomasetti is even more awesome and attractive to me in this book than in previous ones. I wish he had been around more in this book, but given the heavy duty ammo going down in this novel, it’s almost a blessing that Castillo shelved the usual amount of relationship chaos with the two for the sake of the plot being resolved. I am so glad she did that, although Tomasetti is such a cute little thing that you wish he were around more! I hope she spins him off to his own series, if she ever ends the Kate Burkholder series(I hope not, seriously, I wait for the one a year Linda Castillo writes).
Do yourself a favor and read it. Dark, disturbing, and you have no fucking idea who did it until the very last minute. Then your breath is stolen quickly from you, and you never quite recover it. In the bookselling world, we call that a hole in one.