Down a Dark Road (Kate Burkholder, #9)by Linda Castillo

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 11th 2017 by Minotaur Books
5 Stars *****

Synopsis: In this electrifying new thriller in the New York Times bestselling series, a convicted murderer is on the run and Chief of Police Kate Burkholder must catch him before he strikes again.

Eight years ago Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. He was a “fallen” Amish man and, according to local law enforcement, a known drug user with a violent temper. Now King has escaped, and he’s headed for Painters Mill.

News of a murderer on the loose travels like wildfire and putting Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her team of officers on edge. A nightmare scenario becomes reality when King shows up with a gun and kidnaps his five children from their Amish uncle’s house. He’s armed and desperate with nothing left to lose.

Fearing for the safety of the children, Kate leaps into action, but her frantic search for a killer leads her into an ambush. When King releases her unharmed, asking her to prove his innocence, she begins to wonder whether the police are hiding something, and she embarks on her own investigation to discover the truth.

My Review: Wow, this was one of the best Kate Burkholder books yet. I did not want to put it down to go to bed. Linda Castillo has the knack of writing about the Amish and Englischer divide as well as weaving them together living in the same area of Ohio. The plot in this story moved you quickly between past reminiscences and the present.

The book opens with Kate getting a call about an escaped convict that might be headed to her area. It is Joseph (Joe) King who used to be her childhood friend and first crush. Two years earlier he was charged with killing his wife Naomi and spent the last year in prison. He heads to Painter’s Mill because his children are living there with his sister-in-law and her husband. As Kate is patrolling the area, she comes across an abandoned car. Following the trail, she is ambushed by Joe, has her sidearm taken and is held hostage for a period of time. Kate tries to use her personal connection with him to solve the issues without any fatalities. His request for her, is to find out who killed his wife. He insists he is innocent and that his youngest daughter, Sadie, saw an intruder in the house. He then lets her leave. Who really killed Naomi? Can the standoff end without any fatalities? Can Kate help Joe without putting herself in danger?

I love the characters in this series. Kate and Tomasetti are a great couple. The things they go through together, yet have to keep their relationship professional is amazing. I feel like I have come to know the characters in Painter’s Mill. Even though the Painter’s Mill police department were peripheral in this story, their short appearances were important. The kids in the story, especially Sadie, were wonderful. What they had been through in the last couple of years would cause major upset, but they seem to be handling things well with the help of their aunt and uncle. Sadie is only five, but she was so smart for her age and was able to wrap adults around her fingers. I really connected with this family and felt their pain.

With all the family drama and sadness going on, this was an exceptional mystery. Kate had her hands tied investigating something outside her jurisdiction but her guts and moral compass kept her going until she found a resolution. A great story for any mystery, suspense and/or crime/detective lover. A must read. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.