SWORN TO SILENCE. Copyright © 2009 by Linda Castillo. All rights reserved.

I’m one of those writers lucky enough to have a strong support system that sustains me in the long, and sometimes difficult, months it takes to write a novel. This book is dedicated to my husband, Ernest, who just happens to be my real-life hero. And to Jack and Debbie, for that wonderful trip to Amish country. I love you guys.


A writer’s quest for facts while working on a book is a seemingly endless process. Though the writing itself is a solitary endeavor, writers are rewarded during the research phase of the book with the opportunity to speak with countless interesting individuals and professionals who so generously share their expertise. I have many people to thank for helping me bring Sworn to Silence to fruition.

First and foremost, I wish to thank my fabulous agent, Nancy Yost, who saw the possibilities from the start and never faltered along the way. To my wonderful editor, Charlie Spicer, whose enthusiasm for the story and editorial direction shaped the book into a winner. I’d also like to thank the entire St. Martin’s/Minotaur team in New York: Sally Richardson, Andrew Martin, Matthew Shear, Matthew Baldacci, Bob Podrasky, Hector DeJean, David Rotstein, Allison Caplin, and Sarah Melnyk. There are many more brilliant individuals who remain unnamed due to space constraints, but I’m blessed to write for such a dynamic and capable group of people.

On the technical side of things I owe huge thanks to Chief Daniel Light of the Arcanum, Ohio, Police Department, for so generously sharing his knowledge and experience of the inner workings of a small town police department. Thank you to A.C. for all of your insights into the Amish culture and for sharing all of those precious details about daily Amish life. To my critique group: Jennifer Archer, Anita Howard, Marcy McKay, and April Redmon, thanks for letting me keep you up late Wednesday nights. To Kurt Shearer of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, for answering all of my crazy questions without blinking an eye. I took much literary license when depicting many of the law enforcement agencies in my book, particularly BCI. It is a top-notch agency administered by consummate professionals who are very good at what they do. Any procedural errors and embellishments are mine.

            Forwith the devil did appear,

            For name him and he’s always near.

               —Matthew Prior, “Hans Carvel”


She hadn’t believed in monsters since she was six years old, back when her mom would check the closet and look beneath her bed at night. But at the age of twenty-one, bound and brutalized and lying naked on a concrete floor that was as cold as lake ice, she believed.

Enveloped in darkness, she listened to the hard drum of her heart. She couldn’t stop shivering. Couldn’t keep her teeth from chattering. Every minuscule sound made her body tense in terrible anticipation of the monster’s return.

In the beginning, she’d entertained fantasies of escape or convincing her captor to let her go. But she was a realist; she knew this wasn’t going to end nicely. There would be no negotiation. No police rescue. No last-minute reprieve. The monster was going to kill her. It was no longer a question of if, but when. The waiting was almost as hellish as death itself.

She didn’t know where she was or how long she’d been there. She’d lost all concept of time and place. All she could discern about her surroundings was that the place stank of rotting meat, and every little noise echoed as if she were in a cave.

She was hoarse from screaming. Exhausted from struggling. Demoralized by the horrors he’d inflicted upon her. A small part of her just wanted this terrible struggle for life to end. But dear God how she wanted to live . . .

“Mama,” she whispered.

She’d never contemplated death. She had too many dreams. She was too full of hope for the future, and a firm believer in the promise that tomorrow would be better than today. Lying in a cold slick of her own urine, she accepted the fact that there would be no tomorrow. There was no hope. No future. Only the black dread of her impending death and the agony that knowledge brought.

She lay on her side with her knees drawn up to her chest. The wire binding her wrists behind her had tormented her at first, but over the hours the pain had ebbed. She tried not to think of the things he’d done to her. He’d raped her first. But even that outrage was nothing compared to the other depravities she’d endured.

She could still hear the snap of electricity. She felt the hard wrench of it as it jumped through her, jolting her brain inside her skull. She could still hear the animalistic sound of her own screams. The roar of adrenaline-rich blood through her veins. The wild drum of her heart beating out of control. And then there was the knife.

He’d worked with the intense concentration of some macabre artisan. He’d been so close she’d felt the whisper of his breath against her skin. When she screamed, he hit her with the electrical prod. When she lashed out with her feet, he’d hit her again. In the end, she’d lain still and endured the agony in silence. She’d accepted the pain. And for a few brief minutes, her mind had taken her to the beach in Florida where she’d gone with her parents two years ago. White sand hot on her feet. A breeze so moist and warm it was like the breath of God on her soul.

“Help me, Mama . . .”

The sound of boots against concrete jerked her from her reverie. She raised her head and looked around wildly, trying in vain to see past the blindfold. She could hear her breaths rushing between her teeth, like a wild animal that had been hunted down for slaughter. She hated him. She hated what he was, what he’d done to her. If only she could loosen her bonds and run . . .

“Stay away from me, you son of a bitch!” she shouted. “Stay away!”

But she knew he wouldn’t.

A gloved hand brushed her hip. Twisting, she lashed out with both feet. A fleeting sense of satisfaction unfurled when her tormenter grunted. Then the snap of electricity cracked like lightning. Pain raked down her body as if she were at the end of a bullwhip that had just been snapped.

For an instant, the world went silent and gray. Vaguely, she was aware of hands touching her feet. The distant clink of steel against concrete. Cold seeping into her until her entire body quaked uncontrollably.

A pristine new terror whipped through her when she realized her attacker had wrapped a chain around her

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