Review: Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo (

“Time flies” and “So many books, so little time” are two clichés that banged up against my reading life when I was offered the opportunity to read and review Linda Castillo’s first Kate Burkholder novel, Sworn to Silence.

In 2009, when Sworn to Silence came out, I was working at a bookstore. The book caught my eye due to its evocative cover of a stubbly winter field set against an angry dark red sky. The tantalizing juxtaposition of a serial killer set in a peaceful Amish community is one not many mystery fans can easily pass up. I may have actually read the first few pages of the book back then because when I recently started reading it, the beginning seemed vaguely familiar. The brutal violence depicted in the Prologue is as shocking to me now as it was then.

Castillo hits the reader hard from the first sentences on page one:

She hadn’t believed in monsters since she was six years old, back when her mom would check the closet and look beneath her bed at night. But at the age of twenty-one, bound and brutalized and lying naked on a concrete floor that was as cold as ice, she believed.

Torn between closing the book because of the horror and continuing to read, my curiosity won out, and I chose the latter. I made it through the first four horrific pages of the Prologue to Chapter 1, and I couldn’t put the book down after that. As disturbing as the violence against women is in this novel, the complexity and believability of the characters are what made this novel a page-turner for me.

To read the rest of my review on Criminal Element, please click here.

Linda Castillo also wrote an interesting essay about how she came to write the Kate Burkholder series after having penning several successful romance novels. Her switch to writing thrillers was due to the feedback she was getting from editors. Read more here.

I’ll also post the review of each book in the series as they’re posted on Criminal Element:

Book 2: Pray for Silence reviewed by John Valeri
Book 3: Breaking Silence reviewed by Kristin Centorcelli
Book 4: Gone Missing reviewed by Angie Barry
Book 5: Her Last Breath reviewed by Doreen Sheridan
Book 6:
Book 7:
Book 8:
Book 9:
Book 10:

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