BookBrowse Reviews Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo

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Her Last Breath

A Kate Burkholder Novel

by Linda Castillo

Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo X
Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2013, 320 pages
    Jul 2014, 320 pages

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About this Book



A rainy night, an Amish father returning home with his three children, a speeding car hurtling toward them out of nowhere. In Her Last Breath, Kate Burkholder must prove that this was no accident.

Linda Castillo's fifth book in her Kate Burkholder series, Her Last Breath, is a winner with BookBrowse readers. 26 out of 28 reviewers gave it 4 or 5 stars! Here is what they say about the chilling mystery Chief of Police Kate must solve:

If I could give this book six stars, I would. The Kate Burkholder series is absolutely excellent, but Linda Castillo has taken her newest entry, Her Last Breath to new heights (Sue P). Her Last Breath captured and held my attention so completely that I read straight through, neglecting everything I was supposed to do that day… I highly recommend the book, but offer this caveat to readers: when you start reading, be sure you have no other demands on your time that day. You'll never put the book down until you've read to the stunning and thrilling conclusion! (Helen S) Castillo has got to be one of the best writers in the country - she mixes believable crime, culture (Amish), small town America (rural Ohio), and mystery into her Police Chief Kate Burkholder books (Marge V). A fast-moving mystery is my favorite kind of book. I recommend the entire series. I own them all (Barbara C). I enjoyed this book very much, the only drawback was that I wasn't ready for it to end. I had some questions I still wanted answered. Maybe in the next one...(Cheryl W)

Kate Burkholder is more than just a Chief of Police; she is a truly fascinating character:

As a former member of the Amish community and now Chief of Police in the same town where the Amish now shun her, Kate Burkholder is a very conflicted character - which also makes her more real and interesting (Susan R). I like Kate. She's tough and intelligent and a darn good Chief on the trail of the killer (Christie K). Having read Linda Castillo's previous Amish mysteries, I expected a good story. Her Last Breath exceeded my expectations. Castillo's deep understanding and compassion for the Amish way of life is exemplified in the main character of these novels, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder (Cheryl K). Her Last Breath does well as a stand-alone read; it does not leave the reader confused about what happened before but it will have the reader wanting to read more about Kate. As she tries to solve the identity of the hit and run driver who killed an Amish father and 2 of his children, Kate must also face ghosts from her past (Maggie P).

Linda Castillo creates deep, honest, nuanced characters with complicated lives:

The insights into Amish life and the alienation felt by former members of the community made this book more than just a mystery, but an escape into a lifestyle that is so different from my Southern California environment (Grace W). Castillo's characters ring true. The protagonist, Kate Burkholder, is a "fallen-away" Amish, and has the deep understanding of their customs together with the loneliness of being estranged from her culture. Her love interest, John Tomasetti, wavers between tolerance and impatience with her unwillingness to commit (Jinny K). The novel did keep me guessing until the end that is for sure, but I was especially moved by Castillo's depth of thought and her honest approach to the conflicts that exist in the hearts of the Amish people (Becky M).

While most readers were held riveted by the story, some felt it was too neat and lacked depth:

What troubled me was the ending, which was too neat. Although there were hints along the way as to the identity of the killer, I was shocked and annoyed that it all came together so quickly (Shelby L). Castillo kept interrupting the mystery with the female cop's love life - or lack thereof - and I'm not a romance fan. Neither did I much care about learning her reasons for turning away love when she had the chance. Before you assume I'm hard to please, I very much liked the tracking of the case and the Amish background. So if you like to mix your genres, this may be the book for you. For me…not so much (Mary G). Castillo's grounding in the romance tradition is evident in Her Last Breath. A pleasing page-turner, the novel is as meaty as a Hostess Twinkie: two-dimensional characters, slim improbable plot. The book's saving grace is its setting in an Amish community, and its intriguing contrast with surrounding "Englisher" culture (Julia E).

Who would enjoy this book?

Anyone interested in learning about the Amish culture would enjoy this (Roni S). Anyone who loves a good mystery or Amish stories will completely enjoy this page-turner. It reads like a good movie and was over far too soon (Roseanne S). This book will appeal to ages 16 and up and book clubs should enjoy discussing the Amish and the difficulties of doing police work in such a community. There is a wealth of information and not just about the Amish. There are also psychological issues about friendship, love and what we blind ourselves to in our relationships. I don't think anyone will be disappointed by this mystery (Peggy K).

This review was originally published in July 2013, and has been updated for the July 2014 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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