Gina Colorosa is a cop on the run. She’s mixed up in something bad at the Columbus Division of Police and now there’s no turning back. With nowhere else to go, she points her car to Painters Mill, Ohio, hoping her former friend, Kate Burkholder, now the Chief of Police, will forget the past. Gina gets close, but her car crashes in a blizzard and in the morning, she’s discovered by Adam Lengacher, an Amish widower with three young children.
Gina is injured and bears a weapon, but Adam doesn’t question taking her in. “You don’t leave anyone, including an outsider, to the elements, especially if they’re hurt,” he explains.
Now Kate must confront a close friendship that went bad and ended abruptly. Once best friends and roommates, Gina and Kate attended the police academy together. And Kate can’t forget that Gina took her in when she had nowhere to go, after “leaving the fold” of her Amish family and community.
Gina stays at the Lengacher’s home, under Kate’s supervision, until the weather breaks and Kate and her boyfriend, John Tomasetti, who is with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, decide what to do. Kate tries to get a read on her wild, tough-talking and elusive friend while Tomasetti makes some calls to Columbus. It seems safe at the cozy Lengacher home, where Gina learns about the Amish way of life, but everyone knows it’s just a matter of time until Gina’s dangerous pursuers find her, putting Adam and his kids at great risk. Kate senses that Gina isn’t giving her the whole story and events from their past suggest Gina has broken many police rules.
Outsider is the twelfth book in Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series and is told in both Kate’s voice and a third-person narrative of the events in Columbus and the women’s backstories. The author gives readers a look into the Amish way of life and how the Amish and “English” outsiders interact as their lives inevitably overlap. Kate is a bridge between both lives, understanding her childhood friend Adam as well as the outside world. Several moral questions come up and are resolved in interesting ways.
I enjoyed Outsider, although I haven’t read the other Kate Burkholder books. References to her Amish family make me want to go back and catch up on these relationships. I thought the author did a nice job portraying Amish life and includes many Pennsylvania Dutch phrases that enhance the story. There is a big contrast between these Amish chapters and Gina’s life as a cop in Columbus and at times the transition seems jarring. But the story moves at a good pace with a few twists and a satisfying conclusion.
I was attracted to Outsider because of the title and cover. I had an idea of who the woman on the cover represented, but was disappointed that it never became obvious and in fact, I was definitely wrong about my idea. Is this Kate from years ago contemplating her life outside the community? Has she already been shut out? I couldn’t figure it out and felt a little misled.
All-in-all, I enjoyed the book and think readers who like police detective stories and enjoy learning about the Amish would like the series. The author explains plenty from previous books so Outsider also works as a standalone.
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