Shamed: A Kate Burkholder Novel
“Shamed, book number 11 in The Kate Burkholder series very well stands on its own, offering many twists and turns along with descriptive references regarding the Amish community.”
In the town of Painters Mill, Ohio, where a third of the population is Amish, no one is better suited to govern them than police Chief Kate Burkholder. Raised there, she is no longer in the order, but she is well known. Though the Amish distance themselves from the "Englischers," Kate's help is invaluable when needed for she understands their ways and their language.
Two Helmuth sisters, Elsie seven, and Annie five, go with their "Grossmammi" Mary Yoder, to a nearby abandoned farm that once belonged to a member of the Swartzentruber Old Order Amish. This group is different from the one which Mary and her family belong to.
"The Swartzentruber are Old Order and adhere to the long-standing traditions with an iron grip. They forgo many of the conveniences other Amish use in their daily lives. Things like running water and indoor plumbing. They don't use windshields in their buggies or rubber tires. The women wear long, dark dresses. Most wear winter bonnets year-round. The men don't trim their beards. Even their homes tend to be plain.
"As a group, they get a bit of a bad rap, especially from non-Amish people who don't understand the culture. Most complaints have to do with their refusal to use slowing-moving-vehicle signage, which they consider ornamental. I've also heard some non-Amish grumble about their personal hygiene of some Swartzentruber. Having been raised Amish, I appreciate the old ways. Even if I don't agree with them, I respect them."
Though their beliefs are different, Mary fondly remembers her childhood days spending time with youngsters living at this homestead, and she feels nostalgic whenever she is there. Though the property is large and in disrepair, Mary always finds it peaceful and serene. Except for this particular day . . .
When Mary discerns someone is in the deserted house, she needs to investigate, making sure the children to remain outside. She is shaken upon glimpsing the intruder and before she can do anything, the man savagely attacks and kills her.
Kate, on the road with her newest patrol officer Mona Kurtz receives a call about a horse and buggy on the loose by the old Schattenbaum place, and they head to the location where they hear a heart-wrenching scream.
"'Grossmammi! Grossmammi! Grossmammi!'
". . . Panic and terror echo in the young voice. I glance at the Schattenbaum
house, spot a little Amish girl running down the gravel lane as fast as her legs will carry her. . . .
"When she's ten feet from me, I notice the blood on her hands. More on her face. On her dress. A lot of it. Too much. A hard rise of alarm in my chest. I glance at Mona. 'I got blood. Keep your eyes open.'
"The girl's body slams into me with such force that I stumble back. She's vibrating all over. Mewling sounds tearing from a throat that's gone hoarse.
"'Easy.' I sent my hand on her little shoulders. 'It's okay. You're all right.'
"'Grossmammi!' Screaming, she claws at my clothes, looks over her shoulder toward the house. 'Da Deivel got her!'"
Kate inspects the vacant house, discovering Mary's brutally beaten body. Annie, a witness to her grandmother's demise, is now with a deputy, sobbing hysterically and saying a man took her sister.
Things like this do not occur in Painters Mill, particularly not with these God-fearing people. Kate immediately tries to pry more information from Annie, but all she can ascertain is that the perpetrator is one of the Plain people, though the child does not know him.
With a massive search underway, Kate meets with the elder Helmuths to see if someone has a grudge with them—though highly unlikely in this peace-loving community—to kill the grandmother and abduct Elsie. Kate believes something is amiss, and that they are not telling her the truth. Her colleagues peruse records for registered felons in the area and any other pertinent clues that may help to locate the abducted child.
Miriam, Elsie's mother has eight children, and Kate is shocked when upon receiving their birth documents she notices Elsie's birth date is listed as being three months after her brother, Elam. How can this be? Did Miriam not give birth to Elsie—a sweet, loving girl with disabilities? Kate must find out what this family is hiding.
As Kate, as well as John Tomasetti, her significant other, and an agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation delve deep into the case, other strange occurrences come to light. Deaths that have been explained as accidents offer new questions. Do these happenings tie into the capture of little Elsie Helmuth and Mary's killing? Secrets are kept close to the vest as a young child could be in grave danger. Can the puzzle pieces be put together before another tragedy occurs?
Each chapter is premised by the hours since Elsie's abduction, which adds to the suspense. Also, written in the present tense and quick paced, the novel pulls the reader in having them feel they are included in the events as they happen.
Shamed, book number 11 in The Kate Burkholder series very well stands on its own, offering many twists and turns along with descriptive references regarding the Amish community.