The July 2012 Women of Mystery are getting plenty of attention, but only one gets to be our Top Pick. Linda Castillo's Gone Missing, the newest installment in her Amish thriller series, earns that honor with its gripping tale of murder and Rumspringa gone wrong. Whodunit columnist Bruce Tierney writes, "With its wonderfully conflicted protagonist, and its incisive look into a society most of us know little about, Gone Missing is the unquestioned high point of one of the most compelling series in modern suspense fiction."

Castillo talks Amish country, great books and great characters in a Q&A with BookPage.

Describe your book in one sentence.
Formerly Amish chief of police Kate Burkholder is asked to consult on a missing person case involving an Amish teenager by state agent John Tomasetti, and they discover links to cold cases that go back years—and soon become a murder investigation.

What is it about Amish Country that inspires such great thrillers?
Ohio’s Amish Country is a peaceful and bucolic place of rolling hills, farms and quaint towns. The Amish make it unique—there’s no place like it in the world. I think the element that makes it such a terrific setting for a thriller is the juxtaposition of the beautiful setting and the introduction of evil into it. That contrast is one of the things that prompted me to set my books among the Amish.

What is one book people might be surprised to know you have read?
The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It’s a post-apocalyptic book I couldn’t put it down. Epic.

What's your favorite thing about being a writer?
It’s hard to name just one thing. I love writing stories, creating characters and the world in which they live. I love cooking up mysteries and having my characters work their way through all the red herrings to solve them—the scarier the better. Most of all, I love sharing all of those things with readers. For a writer, there’s no better feeling than to hear from a reader who loved the book.

If you had to be stranded on a desert island with one fictional character, who would you choose?
That’s a tough one because I’ve read so many books with intriguing characters. I’m thinking this is a toss-up between Lucas Davenport [from John Sandford's Prey series] and John Tomasetti. (I have huge crushes on both!) If I had to choose, I’d probably go with Tomasetti because I find him endlessly fascinating, and I know if I had the chance to sit down and talk to him, he’d end up surprising the hell out of me.

If you could take one of Kate Burkholder's characteristics for yourself, what would it be?
It takes courage to be a police officer. Kate is a lot braver than I could ever be. She’s tackled and solved some tough cases that required a good bit of chutzpah. I think I’d like to have her courage.

What are you working on next?
I have two projects in the works. I’m nearly finished with the fifth book in my Kate Burkholder series. No title yet, but it’s a fascinating story that gives us a glimpse into Kate’s childhood and pits her against a villain like she’s never faced before. I’m also working on a standalone novel that has been calling to me for quite some time.

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