Even the Amish community has a crime problem!
What is the Kate Burkholder series about?
Written by Linda Castillo who was previously known for her romantic novels, the Kate Burkholder series is about a young Amish girl from Painters Mill, a small town in Ohio, who survived being attacked by a serial killer but realized that she no longer belonged to her community.
Years later, Kate has been asked to return to Painters Mill as Chief of Police. Now, she has to face some secrets of her past and find the truth in a society of silence when the serial killer who attacked her resurfaced.
The first book in the Kate Burkholder series, Sworn to Silence, was adapted into a Lifetime original movie titled An Amish Murder starring Neve Campbell.
How to read the Kate Burkholder Books in Order?
Every book in the Kate Burkholder series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Sworn to Silence – In Painters Mill, Ohio, the Amish and “English” residents have lived side by side for two centuries. But sixteen years ago, a series of brutal murders shattered the peaceful farming community. A young Amish girl named Kate Burkholder survived the terror of the Slaughterhouse Killer… A wealth of experience later, Kate has been asked to return to Painters Mill as chief of police. She’s certain she’s come to terms with her past―until the first body is discovered in a snowy field.
- Pray for Silence – The Planks moved from Lancaster County Pennsylvania to the small Amish community of Painters Mill, hoping to resume the comforts of the Plain Life in Ohio. Less than one year later, the family of seven is found dead―slaughtered on their own farm. Police Chief Kate Burkholder and her small force have few clues, no motive, and no suspect.
- Breaking Silence – The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death.
- Gone Missing – Rumspringa is the time when Amish teens are allowed to experience life without the rules. It’s an exciting time of personal discovery and growth before committing to the church. But when a young teen disappears without a trace, the carefree fun comes to an abrupt and sinister end, and fear spreads through the community like a contagion.
- Long Lost (short story) – It’s autumn in Painters Mill, and Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and John Tomasetti are taking a vacation at a small bed and breakfast. They’re looking forward to some down time, but their relaxation is cut short by rumors that the old house where they’re staying is haunted by a girl who disappeared twenty years earlier.
- Her Last Breath – It’s a rainy night in Painter’s Mill when, from out of nowhere, a speeding car comes hurtling toward an Amish man and his three children. What at first seems like a tragic but routine car accident becomes personal for Chief of Police Kate Burkholder when she discovers that the victims are the family of her childhood friend, Mattie.
- The Dead Will Tell – On a late-night shift, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of an apparent suicide―an old man found hanging from the rafters in his dilapidated barn. But evidence quickly points to murder and Kate finds herself chasing a singularly difficult and elusive trail of evidence that somehow points back to the tragedy of a long ago incident.
- A Hidden Secret (short story) – When a baby-only hours old-is discovered on the Amish bishop’s front porch in Painter’s Mill, Ohio, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called in to investigate. The newborn is swaddled in an Amish crib quilt, and the only other item found with the child is a hand-carved wood rattle, which Kate also recognizes as Amish. Now collected in A Simple Murder.
- After the Storm – When a tornado tears through Painters Mill and unearths human remains, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is tasked with the responsibility of identifying the bones and notifying the family. When evidence emerges that the death was no accident, Kate soon finds herself plunged into a thirty-year-old case that takes her deep into the Amish community to which she once belonged.
- Seeds of Deception (short story) – It’s autumn in Painter’s Mill, and 14-year old Kate Burkholder has been tasked with picking apples in Zimmerman’s Orchard with her brother. It’s just another day filled with chores-until her best friend Mattie arrives to help. The innocent fun comes to an end when Billy Marquardt and his gang of friends interrupts. Now collected in A Simple Murder.
- Among the Wicked – Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called upon by the sheriff’s department in rural upstate New York to investigate the death of a young girl in a reclusive Amish settlement. Unable to penetrate the wall of silence between the Amish and the “English” communities, the sheriff asks Kate to pose as an Amish woman and find out what really happened.
- Only the Lucky (short story) – It’s Friday the 13th in Painters Mill and rumors of an Amish “rager”-a huge outdoor party rife with underage drinking-puts Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her small department on edge. At the height of the rager, a teenage Amish girl is attacked with a hammer and left for dead. Now collected in A Simple Murder.
- Down a Dark Road – Two years ago, “fallen” Amish man Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. Now King has escaped from prison… and is headed for Painters Mill. For Chief of Police Kate Burkholder, this case is personal.
- In Dark Company (short story) – It’s the middle of the night in Painters Mill, and Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to a scene where a mysterious young woman, battered and terrified, has sought shelter at an Amish farmhouse. She can’t remember her name or where she’s from, but she knows one thing: someone was trying to kill her. Now collected in A Simple Murder.
- A Gathering of Secrets – When a historic barn burns to the ground in the middle of the night, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called in to investigate. At first, it looks like an accident, but when the body of eighteen-year-old Daniel Gingerich is found inside―burned alive―Kate suspects murder.
- In Plain Sight (short story) – Seventeen year old Amish boy, Noah Kline, is struck by a car as he walks alongside a dark country road late one night in Painters Mill. Initially, Kate Burkholder believes it’s a straightforward hit and run, a driver that panicked and fled. But evidence soon emerges that the incident wasn’t accidental at all. Now collected in A Simple Murder.
- Shamed – The peaceful town of Painters Mill is shattered when an Amish grandmother is brutally murdered on an abandoned farm. When Kate Burkholder arrives on the scene, she learns that the woman’s seven-year-old granddaughter is gone, abducted in plain sight. Kate knows time is against her. The girl’s family is a pillar of the Amish community. But Kate soon realizes they’re keeping secrets.
- The Pact (short story) – Three days before Thanksgiving, two boys disappear without a trace. Eleven-year-old Aaron Kuhns is Amish. Kevin Dennison is twelve and “English.” When they don’t return home from what was supposed to be a fun afternoon of fishing, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder must find the missing boys before the first winter storm of the season bears down on Painters Mill.
- Outsider – While enjoying a sleigh ride with his children, Amish widower Adam Lengacher discovers a car stuck in a snowdrift and an unconscious woman inside. He calls upon Chief of Police Kate Burkholder for help, and she is surprised to recognize the driver: fellow cop and her former friend, Gina Colorosa.
- Disappeared (short story) – As a violent thunderstorm rages in Painters Mill, Kate Burkholder receives a call from a frantic young Amish woman: her two-year-old son is missing. Kate and her officers brave the downpour to search for the toddler, fearing he may have been swept away in the rising creek waters.
- Fallen – When a young woman is found murdered in a Painters Mill motel, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is shocked to discover she once knew the victim. Rachael Schwartz was a charming but troubled Amish girl who left the fold years ago and fled Painters Mill. Why was she back in town? And who would kill her so brutally?
- Blood Moon (short story) – On a foggy spring night, an Amish man crashes his buggy after a large, unidentified animal spooks his horse. Kate Burkholder arrives on scene to find the man shaken and bleeding, claiming he was attacked by a large beast. But his description of the creature sounds like something straight out of the Amish folklore from Kate’s childhood. Throughout the night, more incidents of an aggressive animal on the loose are reported, putting the citizens of Painters Mill on edge. There’s a monster menacing the countryside, and Kate must follow its tracks into the dark woods along Painters Creek before violence tips over into tragedy.
- The Hidden One – Over a decade ago, beloved Amish bishop Ananias Stoltzfus disappeared without a trace. The mystery of what happened to the esteemed old man has haunted his small Pennsylvania community for years. When skeletal remains showing evidence of foul play are unearthed and revealed to be the bishop’s, his disappearance becomes even more sinister. Unhappy with the local investigation, Amish elders arrive in Painters Mill and ask chief of police Kate Burkholder for help.
- Hallowed Ground (short story) – When a family dog brings home a human bone, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder finds herself on a desperate search for answers. Where did the bone come from? Who does it belong to? And perhaps most importantly, are the bones a result of foul play? With Halloween approaching, the unsettling questions garner uneasiness, rumors, and macabre theories among the residents of Painters Mill.
- An Evil Heart – On a crisp autumn day in Painters Mill, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder responds to a call only to discover an Amish man who has been violently killed with a crossbow, his body abandoned on a dirt road. Aden Karn was just twenty years old, well-liked, and from an upstanding Amish family. Who would commit such a heinous crime against a young man whose life was just beginning? The more Kate gets to know his devastated family and the people-both English and Amish-who loved him, the more determined she becomes to solve the case.