MYSTERY

A Simple Murder: A Kate Burkholder Short Story Collection

Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Kate Burkholder). Feb. 2021. 416p. ISBN 9781250819680. $30.99; pap. ISBN 9781250783615. $9.99. M
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Fans of Castillo’s Kate Burkholder will be pleased to see the Painters Mill, OH, police chief as the star of a story collection. A 14-year-old Kate suspects her best friend of starting a fire in a barn in “Seeds of Deception.” In the other five stories, Kate, along with the man she loves, John Tomasetti from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, investigates everything from the cold case of a woman who disappeared 22 years earlier to the story behind a baby left on an Amish bishop’s porch. All six stories involve young people, usually Amish, who are victims of crime. The strongest one, “Only the Lucky,” sends Kate to a farm where Amish and Englischer teens are partying, until a young girl is attacked.
VERDICT As with any collection, some stories are stronger than others, and the author doesn’t have much opportunity to develop the plot. Castillo shines when she focuses on the Amish lifestyle, and in the longer stories with more opportunity to delve into the plot. Kate Burkholder fans will want to pick this up while waiting for the next full-length offering from the author.

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