In the small town of Painters Mill in Ohio a cop doing the rounds on the graveyard shift hears screaming. When he investigates he finds a terrified, trembling Amish man who tells him that there is a dead man the nearby house. There is more than a dead man though, all seven members of the Plank family have been brutally killed. Kate Burkholder, the town’s Police Chief, at first wonders if the family’s father, Amos, killed his family then himself but it soon becomes clear that Amos was murdered too and the hunt is on to find a motive and the killer.
I thought the first book in this series was a solidly entertaining read and rather looked forward to this follow-up. Unfortunately for me it had more of the elements I didn’t like about the first book and fewer of the elements I had enjoyed. Sigh.
Firstly there’s the violence. The aftermath of the brutal slaying of the Plank family takes four chapters (almost an hour of the audio book) to describe in extremely graphic detail that was completely and totally unnecessary. A little bit further on some video footage of the killings and other unspeakable acts is discovered and I endured lengthy descriptions of all the footage. Sure it was surrounded by the main character saying how awful it made her feel but either she or Castillo herself is fascinated by it because there’s no other reason for it to be so voluminous. It certainly served no storytelling purpose because in the end the only message I came away with was ‘evil exists’ which I already knew and didn’t need to be reminded by yet another depiction of raped and tortured women.
Then there’s the ‘hinky factor’. Of course characters in fiction don’t have to behave in the same way that real world people would. But they do have to behave in keeping with the story’s internal logic and, to be vaguely credible, a procedural has to have some semblance of a relationship to its real world counterpart. Pray for Silence really had neither of these elements. The two main characters, Kate and her love interest John Tomasetti from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Identification, moped about like a couple of lovesick teenagers whenever they were together and I’d be surprised if this Kate Burkholder could hold down a job in any police force in any country with poorly executed ‘sting’ operations and inability to control herself when confronted with nasty people.
There were some moments of the kind of thing that made the first book so strong including further depictions of the complicated interplay between the town’s Amish community and the ‘Englishers’ but overall I found these elements overshadowed by the gratuitous violence and meandering, soppy plot. The crime was solved almost as an afterthought which, for me, is rarely the sign of a good book. I’m sure more romantic readers would enjoy the romance element of the book but I suspect they’re exactly the ones who would be turned off by the graphic and copious violence so I’m not sure who I would recommend this book to.
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My rating 2/5
Narrator Kathleen McInerney; Publisher Macmillan Audio ; Length 11hours 28minutes
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