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When a new Linda Castillo audio book comes out, I buy it immediately -- then 'save' it, for some time in the future when I need the distraction of what I know will be a really really good book. This is an awesome series, every one of them a work of art, worthy of listening to again and again.
That Linda Castillo has major talent is proved in the opening scene in "Her Last Breath". It starts with an absolutely horrific incident -- a car slams into an Amish horse-drawn wagon, killing two special needs children and their father. Another child barely clings to life lying in the ditch. It's a terrible scene, agonizing in every respect, exceptionally well told. After I finished the book, I went back and listened to that opening scene again. What I found was Castillo was able to convey the unspeakable horror of the whole thing without a bit of gore, no descriptions of blood or guts, no undue pandering to the more sanguinary aspects of the carnage. Instead, she conveyed what happened with small but meaningful symbols -- a child's shoe, the utter silence. What a talent! Lesser authors would have gone for the quick and easy route of talking about the oceans of blood, the screams of the dying.. that Castillo didn't says an awful lot about her talent.
The characters in the series are especially interesting -- Linda Burckholder, the oft-embattled police chief of tiny Painters Mill, OH, was herself born Amish. Now she comes back to her home town as a secular, single woman, no longer embracing the Amish way of life, and is forced to deal with all of the people who knew her back when, before she left the church. There's resentment, there's some admiration, a smidgen of envy on the part of a younger character or two, but whatever, every situation Burckholder encounters is tinged by the last -- hers, theirs, their old days together. There's the pain of seeing her nephews and nieces, her brother's children, family she hardly knows. Her brother and his wife don't want their children 'damaged' by getting to know their lost aunt. In this book, the wife and mother of those killed was Linda's best friend growing up, a woman who is now also estranged from the secular Linda, so there's tension in that relationship. And Linda -- and her brother and sister -- have a secret all their own, one which nearly comes to a head in this installment. There's tension throughout, well beyond the issue of who it was who rammed into the Amish wagon that night.
Through it all, Castillo manages to treat the Amish as .... as people. People just like everyone else. There's no undue sympathy, no condescension, no holding them to higher (or lower) standards. Different as the Amish way of life is, that's not easy to do, but Castillo brings it off to perfection.
If you aren't reading this series already, you've got a treat ahead. I didn't listen to the first three in order, it doesn't make much difference, so start anywhere. Now I'm waiting for the next book -- again, to save it for when I really need it.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
I thoroughly enjoyed "Her Last Breath". What I didn't enjoy was the spoiler in the descriptive! I purchased this audio book because I've listened to the others in the series. I intentionally avoided the synopsis because, too often, too much is revealed. I was halfway through this one - downloading part 2 - so thought it was safe to read the summary. Wrong!Who writes and edits these? I just don't get it. Though I certainly suspected the outcome, I like the "... is this the bad guy/girl...?" "... I think the author is trying to get me to think this.... but, I think...."After reading the summary, there was no thinking anymore, no mystery anymore. It was all right there in the opening line. The big reveal held no surprise.So again, great story, love this series .... I've learned my lesson, but I'd love to be able to read a book summary without worrying about knowing the ending before starting a book.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Her Last Breath again? Why?
I don't like audible giving me headings as though I can't come up with anything to write.?! Linda Castillo stories are wonderful crime mysteries with the addition of a peak into Amish Pennsylvannia culture. This is one of the stories I go back to again and again. Kathleen McInerney is a great reader giving characters individuality.
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
Less description please, this book would have been half the length it was without the padding
Would you ever listen to anything by Linda Castillo again?
What about Kathleen McInerney’s performance did you like?
She read it well but John Thomassetti (sic) sounded like a poor Clint Eastwood
You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?
The basic premise of the story was good
Any additional comments?
Perhaps me coming in the series at didn't help