MINM Review: A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo

Suspenseful, chilling, and thought-provoking, A Gathering of Secrets by American writer Linda Castillo is number ten in her Kate Burkholder series, but can easily be read as a standalone. With this installment, Ms. Castillo has, once again, authored a winner!

There are a few factors, in particular, that make this series, as a whole, stand out. Firstly, the series revolves around a woman who was raised in an Amish family, but left the fold when she was eighteen. Kate Burkholder is the Chief of Police in fictitious Painters Mill, in northeastern Ohio. Her fluency in the Amish Dutch language, as well as her deep understanding of the Amish culture, makes her uniquely qualified to investigate the dark and often brutal crimes involving these otherwise idyllic and pious communities. In A Gathering of Secrets, the inciting incident is a barn fire at a small, Amish farm. In the course of the story, we also explore a painful chapter of Kate's youth, and her relationship with her beau, John Tomasetti, of the Ohio Bureau of Investigation is, happily, further developed.

Another appealing and distinguishing quality of the Kate Burkholder books is the pacing. There are many crime fiction books marketed as thrillers that have relatively even pacing throughout, with slowly increasing tension that picks up steam considerably in the final 15 to 20 percent. Ms. Castillo's Kate Burkholder novels, on the other hand, ebb and flow between more quiet, often poignant and revelatory, character-centered scenes, and those that are much more action-focused, so the reader is rewarded not only with a nail-biting, breath-holding, grand finale, but also with several other tension-filled and highly suspenseful scenes sprinkled throughout the novel, and the structure of A Gathering of Secrets is no exception!

With their unique juxtaposition of the charming and the chilling, the comforting and the criminal; with their wonderful development of characters that the reader becomes enamored with, as well as their intriguing police procedure and frequently riveting pace, it is no wonder that the Kate Burkholder books have become so popular and beloved! Don't miss A Gathering of Secrets, another entertaining and satisfying addition to this highly recommended series!

A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo book cover image.jpg

Best for Crime Fiction Readers:

  • Who are interested in learning about other cultures, in this case, that of the Amish in a small region of Ohio.
  • Who enjoy reading police procedurals.
  • Who are interested in exploring the psychological effects of crimes.
  • Who appreciate, or don't mind, just a bit of romance in their crime fiction and mysteries.
  • Who are not highly squeamish or faint of heart. The novel does contain some visceral, potentially distressing descriptions of a crime (or crimes) and the aftermath, but the descriptions do not comprise very much of the book, and are not overly prolonged.
  • Who appreciate the exploration of coming-of-age themes.
  • Who enjoy crime thrillers.

Pages: 308 (Hardcover)

Publisher's Blurb:

A deadly fire exposes the dark side of Amish life in A Gathering of Secrets, a harrowing new thriller in the New York Times bestselling series by Linda Castillo.

When a historic barn burns to the ground in the middle of the night, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called in to investigate. At first, it looks like an accident, but when the body of eighteen-year-old Daniel Gingerich is found inside—burned alive—Kate suspects murder. Who would want a well-liked, hardworking young Amish man dead? Kate delves into the investigation only to find herself stonewalled by the community to which she once belonged. Is their silence a result of the Amish tenet of separation? Or is this peaceful and deeply religious community conspiring to hide a truth no one wants to talk about? Kate doubles down only to discover a plethora of secrets and a chilling series of crimes that shatters everything she thought she knew about her Amish roots—and herself.

As Kate wades through a sea of suspects, she’s confronted by her own violent past and an unthinkable possibility.

MINM Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars

Are you new to the Kate Burkholder series? Are you up to date on the series? If so, do you have a favorite novel, or favorite novels, in the series? Mystery in Minutes would love to hear from you in the comments below!