****review by CarolK
Just recently I was talking about violent acts against women in books and how sometimes, if gratuitous, it can turn me off. There's a fine line for me in what moves the plot forward and what is over the top and just plain too much. I got turned off on James Patterson for just this reason. Right or wrong this bothers me even more when women write violent scenes, as is the case in Linda Castillo's Sworn to Silence. I have to weigh the merits of the violence to the overall story. Would the story have had the same impact with less descriptive murders. In this case, I'd have to say yes. I was immediately hooked on the broken characters of Kate Burkholder, Chief of Police of Painters Mill, and John Tomasetti, Special Agent who together try to solve a series of horrific serial murders similar to those committed years ago by a fiend dubbed The Slaughterhouse Killer. Kate's character sings true. She harbors haunting secrets from when she was a teen living the plain life of the Amish and as an adult is now under a bann, having left the Amish life behind. Tomasetti, is dealing with his own nightmares after the murder of both wife and daughters to someone trying to get back at him in the most awful way. Burkholder and Tomasetti make a great team and I'm rooting for them both from the get-go. But the violence of the crimes in the end turns me off. Ok, the prologue hooked me. I see the monster, I feel the terror and I am hooked. I get it; I did not need to be graphically reminded throughout of the killer's depravity. Still, I'll give Kate and John another chance as I'm certain there will be a sequel. It's a brutal tale and if you can skip over man's inhumanity to women in this case, an engrossing series debut.
****reviewed by CarolK
If you're expecting Anna Pigeon, put the book down! I had to ask myself where did this one come from? Left field doesn't quite explain it, but 13 1/2 is so far removed from what I've read of Nevada Barr., it's almost like an evil, gleeful twin has taken over her writing hand. I liked it, in fact, I loved it. Many fans get angry when their favorite authors stray from the garden path. I embrace it. Bring it on, show me what you've got. And show me Ms. Barr did.
Spanning forty years, we're taken on a bloody, gruesome ride, that opens with the brutal slaying of eleven year old Dylan Raines's family; mother, father and baby sister, Lena. Brother Rich, hangs on by a thread, his leg hacked, bloody and bleeding, Dylan holds the ax that killed them all. Tried, convicted and off to prison Dylan goes, presumably to rot in jail, close the door, throw away the key. Still Rich stands by his brother, hates to see this young boy's life wasted, visits and supports him despite the awful crime and his own loss. Great characters, tight plot, fast paced psychological read. Though slightly predictable it didn't mar my enjoyment.
Barr's 13 1/2 should appeal to James Patterson fans and his ilk. The only comment I can add is Barr is better. Keep it up!