It’s a beautiful Saturday in Painters Mill, Ohio and Police Chief Kate Burkholder is out enjoying the morning as she plans to pick up a handcrafted gift for her significant other. Before she can do so, she responds to a call to defuse an argument, then is summoned to police headquarters as she has visitors. Upon her arrival, she sees three Amish elders awaiting her. As they exchange introductions, she learns they have traveled from Belleville, Pennsylvania in hopes of gaining some assistance.
As the group settles in into her office, they explain that skeletal remains of a body were found in a field that was being plowed. The remains were determined to be that of an Amish bishop, Ananias Stoltzfus, who disappeared 18 years ago – and he had been shot. Near the remains, a muzzleloader was found, belonging to one of their people – Jonas Bowman – who was subsequently arrested and jailed for the crime. The Elders have come to ask for Kate’s assistance in proving his innocence. As the reader is quick to learn, Kate and Jonas shared a special friendship in their teen years – before Jonas’ family moved away.
As Kate heads to Pennsylvania to assist and old friend, she reminisces about her childhood memories with Jonas and the reader is given gradual glimpses into the complexity of their relationship within the confines of the Amish lifestyle. Once she arrives, she meets with Jonas in jail to gain his side of the story. He describes a contentious relationship all those years ago, between Ananias and his father, that had once split the community in two. He also admits to having words with the Bishop back then, culminating in vandalism to his property. Then two months later, Ananias disappeared, never to be heard from again – until his remains were found in that field.
As Kate settles in and meets with the not-so-forthcoming police department, the victim’s family, and Jonas’ wife, she finds more questions than answers, along with a strong belief that Jonas is not capable of the crime and is being framed. As she continues to investigate, she suddenly finds herself fending off an attacker in the dead of night in her hotel room who nearly kills her before telling her to leave town. Now she knows for certain that Jonas is innocent, and she’ll do whatever it takes to free him and find the real killer….
This was my first Kate Burkholder novel and I was delighted to learn that this is the newest of a long running series! (If you’ve ever read my other reviews, you’ll know that there’s nothing I love more!) This novel also provided a fascinating glimpse into some inner workings of an Amish society and their lifestyle – all artfully wrapped into an engaging and intriguing who-dun-it!
I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley & St. Martin’s Press Minotaur Books in exchange for an objective review. Do you love to read?? Visit netgalley.com and start reviewing books today!!