Gone Missing by Linda Castillo:  Book Review

Gone Missing by Linda Castillo: Book Review

Gone Missing by Linda Castillo is another Kate Burkholder crime novel. Kate is the Chief of Police in Painters Mill. She also grew up Amish and all of the murder cases in these books involve the Amish people.

The story refers back to other cases Kate has been involved with, including the Slaughterhouse Murders and the Plank Murder Case. I’m guessing these cases are the subjects of Linda Castillo’s other books. I have not read the books so I am not familiar with these cases.

Gone Missing Synopsis

Kate and John developed an intimate relationship during the Slaughterhouse Murder case where someone killed John’s wife and kids. A few years pass, and they continue their relationship. Then State Agent John Tomasetti called Kate to see if she would consult on a case with him since Kate grew up Amish the case involves the Amish. She understands the culture and will be able to gain the Amish people’s trust faster.

Furthermore, Kate speaks Pennsylvania Dutch, the language the Amish speak. She uses this to her advantage when she interviews Amish families. Speaking their language assures them that she was one of them, and convinces them that they can trust her. The Amish do not like talking to the English, who is anyone that is not Amish. Unless it is prudent, they keep to themselves.

Gone Missing during Rumspringa

Three teenage Amish girls have gone missing in the last year. The most recent girl is Annie King, who is fifteen years old and has been missing for thirty-six hours. The other two are Bonnie Fisher (16 years old and missing for two months, and Leah Stuckey (16 years old and missing for one year). The police added one other teen, Noah Mast, to the list. He is the only male and has been missing for ten years. He was never found and may have a connection to the other missing Amish teens. They are from different Amish communities within the same Ohio area.

The first day Kate begins her investigation of the case, she arrives at a scene where two teenage girls are fighting. One of them, Sadie, is her relative. This girl looks up to Kate because she left the Amish life and has a career, and Sadie wants to do the same. Sadie is creative at designing clothes. But if she stayed in the Amish community, her talent would be stifled. Since Sadie is on Rumspringa, she has this time to choose what she wants to do with her life.

“Rumspringa is the time when young Amish people are allowed to experience life without the constraints of the Ordnung, while the adults look the other way. Most teens partake in some drinking and listening to music – small infractions that are generally harmless. I wonder if this girl will be one of the 80 percent who eventually become baptized.” (p. 26)

Missing Turns into Murder

Soon after coming on the case with the missing Amish teens, a fisherman finds one of the missing girls’ body. Later that day, the police find out that Sadie Miller, Katie’s brother-in-law’s niece, is missing. She is a fifteen-year-old Amish female. Katie just talked with her a few days before. Sadie fits the same profile and age as the other missing teens.

In the first half of the book Kate and John interview the parents of the missing teens. Nothing exciting happens. Then, after Kate gets closer to finding the murderer, the story becomes sinuous. There are lots of action and twists in the story.

My Analysis

After I read halfway through the book, I did not want to put the book down. It was getting closer to solving the mystery behind the missing Amish teens.

The ending is phenomenal. I liked that after the murderer was caught that the story still went on to explain the motives behind the crimes. Also, it calmed things down after being intense for the last half of the book. Kate still needed to talk to the victims that survived for her closing reports of the case.

While she was talking to one of the girls, Kate astonishingly discovered a new twist in the case. And the story ended. I wasn’t ready for it to end. There is more to it. I immediately looked on Linda Castillo’s website to see if there was a sequel to this book. There is none.

Just when you think the story is all wrapped up, a zinger is thrown in. It is one of those books where the story continues and you need to use your own imagination to come to an ending that you like. The story is not over.

It is a story that I needed to just sit and ponder for a while before moving onto reading another book.

I highly recommend Gone Missing if you like psychological suspense novels. Melancholy Baby is another great book that is similar to this one. Here is my book review.

Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline:  Book Review

Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline: Book Review

Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline is a psychological suspense thriller novel about how far a family will go to protect the people they love. As in Lisa’s other books, there is a twist at the end, which makes it exciting to read, trying to figure out who did it. I enjoy reading her books. Keep Quiet is the second book by this author that I have read so far. I picked up this book, and as soon as I saw the author, I knew I would like the book. It did not disappoint me.

The story takes place in Pennsylvania. The main character’s wife, Pam, is a Judge on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and is trying to get a position as a federal judge. Since I live in Pennsylvania, I was more interested in that detail. Furthermore, some of Pennsylvania’s criminal laws about hit and run homicide were interjected into the story because many of Jake and Ryan’s decisions are based on the probable outcomes of these laws.

Keep Quiet Synopsis

At the very beginning of Keep Quiet, Lisa Scottoline gives us details about the accident and the decision Jake made immediately afterward that will be the basis for the rest of the book. Jake Buckman picks up his 16-year-old son, Ryan, from the movie theater. Ryan asks his father if he can drive partway home. Jake does not think it is a good idea because it is 11:15 p.m., and Ryan only has a learner’s permit and is not allowed to operate a motor vehicle after 11:00 p.m. That is the law. However, Ryan pleaded with his father and furthered his argument, saying that he already has been driving for five months with the learner’s permit and only needs one more month before he can take the test to get his license. Jake caves in and allow his son to drive.

The Tragic Accident

A devastating accident happens. While Ryan is driving and at a moment when he is looking over at his father, he runs over a female runner. Jake checks on the victim and finds that she is dead. He yells to Ryan to call the police. However, after Jake learns that Ryan had been smoking marijuana, Jake decides to leave the scene of the accident, without calling the police. He felt that he needed to protect his son. He has his whole life ahead of him. Ryan may go to jail, and this would ruin his life. Jake tells Ryan to Keep Quiet.

“They would convict him of driving under the influence and vehicular homicide. He would go to jail. There would be no college, no future, no nothing. Ryan’s entire life would be ruined – and all because Jake had let him drive.” (p. 16)

Ryan never wanted to lie. He was driving and felt awful that he had killed a lady. He implored his dad to call the police, but his father did not allow him. How both Jake and Ryan deal with this lie is the basis for the rest of the book. Neither of them goes to the police because they want to protect each other.

Protecting His Son

The next day they found out the victim was Kathleen Lindstrom, a 16-year-old girl who was in Ryan’s class in high school. Ryan really wanted to go to the police and confess that he killed her, but his father wouldn’t let him. He wanted him to Keep Quiet and not tell anyone.

Jake caused Ryan so much anguish. Jake did what he thought was the best decision for his son, but it turned out to be very bad. Not long after, Ryan came to the same conclusion. He kept silent to protect his father.

“He felt a creeping dread that it had only increased the pressure on all of them, tying their family together in a corrupt bargain, each one tethered to the other in a way that doomed them not to survive, but to sink.” (p. 209)

Jake told one lie, and then he kept on having to tell more lies to cover his tracks. Moreover, he breaks more laws to make sure he is not found out. When is it going to stop? Each time he could have stopped it and confessed to the police. The continuous lying and breaking the law is just getting him deeper into trouble.

My Analysis of Keep Quiet

My first thought is it was idiotic to hide a horrible crime. If Jake would have just done the right thing and called the police, everything would have been fine. The rest of the book is the consequences of his decision. I also thought that the woman might have been dead before they ran over her because I don’t think a person would die instantly after being run over by a car. I kept thinking that Jake would figure that out, but he never did.

From the very beginning of Keep Quiet, after reading about the accident, I thought I knew how the story would end. The story was mediocre to me until I got to the middle of the book, where the exciting turn of events happened. One fact that was revealed in the end, I had guessed when I first read about the details of the accident. But everything else kept me in suspense throughout the book, and I was surprised at the conclusion.

I thought is was a good book. If you like psychological suspense novels, you will enjoy Keep Quiet. Another book that I read by Lisa Scottoline was After Anna.

You may want to check out another author, Lisa Jackson, who writes the same type of stories. I wrote a book review of Tell Me by Lisa Jackson who also writes similar novels like this one.

Death in Paradise by Robert B. Parker:  Book Review

Death in Paradise by Robert B. Parker: Book Review

Death in Paradise by Robert B Parker is the third book in the Jesse Stone Series. As of this writing, there are seventeen other books in this series. I read and wrote a book review on Melancholy Baby from the Sunny Randall series, which is another set of novels by the author. After looking through the pages of Death in Paradise, I realized that writing most of the story in a dialog is the style Robert B. Parker writes. The chapters are also very short in both of these books. Another similarity I found in both of these books was that one or more of the characters go to psychotherapy.

This novel did not capture my attention as much as Melancholy Baby. I felt it was kind of boring in the beginning. I, however, kept on reading just to finish it, and to see if it would get any better. It didn’t.

Death in Paradise Synopsis

Jesse Stone is the Chief of Police in Paradise, Massachusetts. After finishing a softball game with his colleagues, Jesse heard screaming. He ran over to the noise to see what happened. The screams came from two men who had just found a dead body in the water. After looking at the body, Jesse guessed that it was a young girl, but it was hard to tell. She probably was in the water for a few weeks. A quick assessment of the girl determined that someone murdered her before dumping the body into the water.

In Death in Paradise, Jesse needs to figure out the identity of the girl and to find the person who killed her. The first clue they found is a high school ring on a chain. They assume that it belonged to her boyfriend since the ring is too small to fit the girl. Another mystery Jesse Stone needs to investigate is why the family of the dead girl never reported her missing. Moreover, why did they deny that she was their daughter?

After some investigation, Jesse is almost positive that the floater is a fifteen-year-old girl named Billie Bishop. He just needs to prove it. The parents did not report the girl missing. Jesse only had the ring as evidence and traced it back to a high school, where he then deduced that the missing girl was probably Billie Bishop. Jesse went on a mission to find out where she went after she ran away from home. I will lead to the person who shot her in the head.

Jesse Stone’s Character

In Death in Paradise emphasizes the character of Jesse. He is really good at softball and he has a drinking problem.

A significant amount of the story is dedicated to Jesse’s drinking habits. Jesse’s excessive drinking is one reason why Jenn, his ex-wife, divorced him. His drinking problem damaged his career also. Jesse got fired from his last job in L.A. from drinking on the job. Yet he refuses to give it up.

“His drink was gone. One more. He got up and went to the kitchen and made another one and brought it back to the deck. The scotch made him feel integrated, complete. Not a wild drunk, Jess thought. Mostly quiet. Mostly the booze enriched him. Jenn wasn’t nasty about his drinking. She had too much psychotherapy not to understand the struggle.” (page 97)

Jenn asks Jesse to talk to her psychotherapist regarding his addiction. The psychotherapist is a recovered alcoholic and understands the difficulty in quitting. Jesse complies because he would love to get back with Jenn.

Softball plays a large part in Death in Paradise also, but not as much as the drinking. Jesse plays on a softball team, along with some of his colleagues, that is a part of the Paradise Men’s Softball League.

“Everyone laughed. They were happy with the story. They all knew that the better you were, the more you talked about your failures. Jesse was clearly the best player in the league, maybe good enough to have played in the majors if he hadn’t got hurt.” (page 47)

Jesse was a shortstop on a minor-league baseball team, and then he tore up his shoulder. The injury ended his career. This devastated him when he was younger. Then he chose to become a policeman as his career.

My Analysis of Death in Paradise

The story emphasizes more on Jesse’s character than on solving the homicide case. In a crime novel, I expect to be taken away in trying to solve the crime. I did not receive that in Death in Paradise. The detective work was intermittently placed in the book. The majority of the book focused on Jesse’s personal life, which had nothing to do with the case. I lost interest because there was nothing to anticipate.  It definitely was not a page-turner.

I still would be interested in reading more of Robert B. Parker’s books to see what else Jesse Stone is up to. He is not my favorite character, but the stories are good. The author wrote seventeen other Jesse Stone books, maybe the other ones will be better. I would give another of his books a try.

If you have read other Jesse Stone novels, this is a good book. It reveals a lot about Jesse’s character. Sometimes getting to know the main character is just as important to the reader as solving the crime.

Melancholy Baby by Robert B. Parker:  Book Review

Melancholy Baby by Robert B. Parker: Book Review

Melancholy Baby by Robert B. Parker is a crime novel. It is the fourth of six novels in the Sunny Randall series, thus far. However, it is not necessary to read the books in order. The detective, Sunny Randall, is the main character in each book. The other books may share parts of Sunny’s life, which would entice interest to read the other books. I like Sunny and would read the other books to delve into more of her life. She is a likable character.

I picked this book up at the library because it looked interesting. As I started reading, I noticed that most of the text is dialog, and the pages are thick. So I knew it wouldn’t take me long to finish the book. After I started reading another of the author’s books, Death in Paradise, I noticed that this is just his style with dialog and short chapters.

Melancholy Baby Synopsis

The primary focus of the Melancholy Baby is the Sarah Markham Case. However, there are two other aspects of the story that get a lot of attention also. They are Sunny’s feelings about her ex-husband getting remarried and the shared custody of their dog, Rosie.

Sunny Randall, the main character, is a private investigator. She and her husband, Richie, have been divorced for five years, and he recently got remarried. Even though she is the one that wanted the divorce, she doesn’t like the idea of him getting married to someone else. To help Sunny to figure out why she can’t live with anyone, except for her dog, she talks to a psychotherapist regularly. About two-thirds of the book is Sunny talking to her psychotherapist about her husband, her childhood, and the Sarah Markham case.

Sunny’s dog, Rosie, is a large part of the story in Melancholy Baby. Rosie is introduced on the first page, implying that she is Sunny and Richie’s child. Richie came over to his ex-wife’s house to pick up Rosie to take her for a few days, as per their shared custody agreement. Sunny’s family and friends also treat Rosie as if she was a part of their family. They all love and spoil her.

“He cut a small wedge of cutlet off and gave it to Rosie. She took it carefully from the fork and ate it.

“Daddy,” I said. “She’s not supposed to eat like that from the table.”

“I know,” my father said. “But I’m her grandfather. It’s permitted.” (page.256)

Sarah Markham Case

Sarah Markham is a college student who hires Sunny to find her biological parents. Her parents insist that she is not adopted; however, they will not get a DNA test to confirm it. Positive DNA results would close the case immediately. Since they refused a DNA test, there had to be some secrets.

Sunny’s first thought was that Sarah was lying. Sarah did not want to answer any questions. If Sunny was going to figure out Sarah’s birth parents, she needs to cooperate and give Sunny some information. Relentlessly, Sarah finally answered the questions.

There is some danger in the Melancholy Baby, but it doesn’t feel like danger. Some men beat Sarah and her boyfriend up and told her to stop the investigation of her parents. This incident seemed suspicious as if Sarah made it up.

“Well,” I said. “Somebody, for some reason, doesn’t want this investigation to go further. Can you imagine who that would be?”

Mr. Markham took in some air.

“Of course, Barbara and I would like it to stop. It is painful for us. But you can’t believe we would harm our own daughter.” (page 96)

My Analysis of Melancholy Baby

Later in the story in Melancholy Baby, murder happens. Why would someone murder people just because a young woman wants to find her birth parents? The calmness of the deaths mystified me while reading the story. The investigation throughout the book didn’t seem too dangerous. I kept thinking that there should be no one killed during this type of case.

Murder in the story surprised me because it was very calm before and after the killings. I felt that murdering people just did not go along with the story. Killing people in the story was no big deal. I would not call this book a thriller. The killings are matter-of-fact. It is not horrifying as I would think it should be.

I loved Rosie being part of the story because I love dogs, especially small dogs. She receives so much love and affection. It warms my heart to see people treat their pets like their own children.

The ending of Melancholy Baby wasn’t that great. The crime was solved, but still, a lot of unanswered questions remained. I would have liked to know more about what Sarah thought at the end. The information received during the investigation must have been a big shock to her. The author didn’t say anything about what happened to her afterward. The readers don’t even see much of how she reacted after hearing the truth.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book for people who like crime drama novels. Although it is a fast read, it had enough action in it to keep my attention. The story intrigued me to want to keep on reading to see what would happen next. I wanted to know how it would end.

Another great crime novel I did a book review was Tell Me by Lisa Jackson.

I enjoyed this book enough that I would like to read the other books in the series:

Tell Me by Lisa Jackson Book Review

Tell Me by Lisa Jackson Book Review

SUMMARY

The main character is Nikki Gillette. She is investigating an old case where a mother, Blondell O’Henry, supposedly killed her oldest daughter and injured her two other children. Most people in their small town believed that she injured herself to look like she was a victim. They wanted her to be put in jail and throw away the key. It has been twenty years since she was convicted and sent to jail. Now her son, who is 28 years old now, recants his story and says that his mother did not shoot him or his sister. In court when he was eight years old he had testified that his mother shot his sister.

Nikki was excited to investigate this case because she was also looking for a criminal case that she was emotionally connected to write a book. She had written two books prior to this and needed one more to fulfill her contract with her publishing company. Nikki had known Amity when she was younger. They both went to the same high school. The mystery throughout the book is that the night Amity died, she called Nikki and asked her to meet her because she had something very important to tell her. Nikki said she would but never made it because her parents were fighting and she couldn’t sneak out of the house.

“She’d never really told the truth about the night Amity had been killed at the cabin in the woods – never admitted that Amity had asked her to come – and she’d buried that guilt deep. But maybe now she’d have her chance. Maybe now she could make right a very deeply felt and festering wrong. (Page 33)”

ANALYSIS

Since Nikki is the main character, we heard mostly from what she was doing and feeling.  Sometimes Lisa Jackson wrote scenes where we got to see what Reed was doing with his side of the investigation.  I wanted to hear from both Reed and Nikki.  They are both working on the same case and will be husband and wife soon. 

A few times when Nikki was interviewing Blondell O’Henry in jail to get her side of the story the author told us what Blondell was thinking.  It made it more interesting and trying to figure out what she is hiding.  Why wouldn’t she want to tell her side and maybe get herself out of jail?  I enjoyed the suspense with finding out what really happened that night Amity O’Henry was murdered. The suspense kept me interested in continuing to read the story until the very end. There were lots of twists. A little romance between Nikki and Reed was a good addition to the story.

Another great crime novel I did a book review was Melancholy Baby by Robert B Parker.

 

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