A pair of cold cases turns hot for an Ohio police chief with an Amish background.
Painters Mill Police Chief Kate Burkholder is just settling into a romantic relationship with Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent John Tomasetti when two cases from the past throw their lives into turmoil. Tomasetti learns that one of the men who murdered his wife and children has gotten off on a technicality. His violent reaction is understandable but still disturbing to Kate, who thought he had put the past behind him; she has little time to ponder, though, when the gruesome killing of a solid citizen demands all her attention. No motive appears until the second and third murders reveal telling connections. All the victims were high school friends, and accusing letters they’d received suggest they may have been involved in the unsolved 1979 murder of an Amish family. Billy Hochstetler is the only survivor of that robbery attempt gone wrong. Soon after young Billy bragged to a friend about how well his family was doing in their woodworking business, several masked figures robbed and murdered his father and kidnapped his mother. While Billy tried to help his mother, his younger siblings—locked in the cellar by the killers—burned to death when a lantern overturned. Billy has finally married and is running a successful apple orchard, but his guilt is constantly with him. Two men who may have been involved refuse to admit to any connection. One is a preacher known for his good deeds, the other a town counselor who dislikes Kate but wants police protection. Although Kate is no longer Amish, her connections with the sect turn up information about the missing Mrs. Hochstetler that may be crucial.
No one who picks up Kate’s stunning sixth case (Her Last Breath, 2013, etc.), a marriage of thriller and police procedural, will put it down unfinished.