Monday, July 30, 2012

"Gone Missing"

Linda Castillo is the New York Times bestselling author of the Kate Burkholder novels, including Sworn to Silence, Pray for Silence and Breaking Silence, crime thrillers set in Amish country.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Gone Missing, the latest Kate Burkholder novel, and reported the following:
Kate Burkholder was born Amish, but left the plain life—and her home town of Painters Mill, Ohio—when she was eighteen years old and never became a member of the church. Sixteen years later, she returned to her home town and because of her Amish roots and background in law enforcement, she was deemed the perfect candidate for chief of police.

In Gone Missing, the fourth book in the series, Kate is asked to consult on a missing person case by state agent and part-time lover, John Tomasetti. An Amish teenager has gone missing in the northeastern part of the state. As Kate and Tomasetti delve into the mystery, they discover links to cold cases that go back years—and quickly find themselves embroiled in a murder investigation.

Page 69 illuminates the persona of some of the more colorful individuals Kate encounters in the course of the investigation:
word, his right hand never far from his holster, and he doesn’t bother wiping his feet. I go in next, swipe each shoe against the throw rug at the threshold. Goddard brings up the rear, actually looks down while he diligently wipes his shoes on the rug.

The interior of the house is hot and stuffy and smells vaguely of fish. A swayback sofa draped with a dingy afghan separates the small living room from an even smaller dining area. A floor fan blows stale air toward a narrow, dark hall. A sleek high-def television is mounted on the wall. It’s tuned to an old Bugs Bunny cartoon with the volume turned low. From where I stand, I can see into a dimly-lit kitchen with cluttered counters and a sink full of dirty dishes. Beyond is a back door, its window adorned with frilly yellow curtains. A folded pizza box sticks out of the top of a stainless steel trash can.

For a full minute the only sound comes from the rattle of the air conditioner and Trina Treece’s labored breathing.

“Where is he?” Goddard asks.

“I reckon he’s out back with that worthless old man of his.” But she’s looking at Tomasetti as if trying to decide which buttons to push and how hard to push them. Tomasetti stares back at her with a blank expression that gives away absolutely nothing. Oh boy.

A sound from the hall draws my attention. Two girls, about ten years old, peek around the corner at us. I see shy, curious faces and young eyes that have already seen too much.

Trina hauls her frame around. “I told you two idiots to stay in your room!”

Both girls have the same wild black hair as their mother. But all likeness ends there. The girls are thin and pretty and seemingly undamaged by the environment in which they live. Watching them, I can’t help but to compare these kids to the girls at the King farm. Innocent lives filled with promise, but whose future will be determined by the guidance they receive from their parents and the vastly different worlds in which they reside.

I think of all the life lessons that lie ahead for these two girls, and
Later, Tomasetti captures one of the themes of this book with a single line of dialogue: “What the hell are people doing to their kids?”

This was about kids, our most precious resource, and the way we treat them. How out of touch parents—even good parents—can be. But this case was mostly about the lost ones that fall through the cracks, both Amish and English.
Learn more about the author and her work at Linda Castillo's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sworn to Silence.

My Book, The Movie: Pray for Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue