The growing urgency is evident in the chapter subtitles of “Shamed.” In Linda Castillo’s new suspense novel, 11th in the Kate Burkholder series about a police chief in a Holmes County town, a 7-year-old girl is kidnapped, and with every minute that ticks away her chances of survival dwindle.

The book starts with the picturesque scene of Amish grandmother Mary Yoder and her two little granddaughters, gathering black walnuts on an abandoned neighboring farm. She sees movement inside the vacant house and goes to investigate. A towering man hacks her to death with a knife and makes off with Elsie Helmuth, who has Cohen Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that can cause intellectual disability.

Before an hour has passed, Kate has interviewed 5-year-old Annie, who says that with her dying breaths, her grandmother told the children to run from “the devil.” In Chapter Four, after “two hours missing,” Kate and Ohio Bureau of Investigation agent John Tomasetti are visiting registered sex offenders. After four hours, after seven hours, after fourteen hours, Castillo blends the intricacy of the police procedural with the race against time to find and save the girl.

Something isn’t quite right about the Helmuth family. Though there are acres of land to comb for clues, Kate drives to remote Scioto County to interview possible witnesses and suspects, one of whom is murdered soon after; another is assaulted. The tension is increased by the constant evidence-destroying rain, which calls back to 2014’s “Her Last Breath,” fifth in the series.

Linda Castillo also has written three Kate Burkholder e-novellas; the latest is “In Plain Sight,” in which a young Amish man is badly injured in a hit-and-run while he is walking home from a homecoming dance. Noah is on rumspringa, that time when an Amish youth has the latitude to break rules of behavior before committing to the church.

Noah attended the dance with Ashley Hodges, a popular “English” girl from a well-off family. Her parents have made no secret that they disapprove of a boy whose education stopped at eighth grade.

Kate investigates the incident while Noah lies in a coma. Unlike the full-length novels, Kate’s having left the Amish faith is not part of the plot.

“Shamed” (320 pages, hardcover) costs $26.99 from Minotaur. “In Plain Sight” (67 pages) costs $1.99 from Amazon.com. Linda Castillo is a former resident of the tiny Darke County village of Arcanum; she now lives in Texas.

Linda Castillo will be at the Dover Public Library, 525 N. Walnut St., from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday; register at 330-343-6123. She also will be at Barnes & Noble in Bath Township at 2 p.m. July 21; the Middleburg Heights branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library from 2 to 3 p.m. July 22 (register at 440-234-3600); and two branches of Stark County District Library on July 23: Lake Community branch at 2 p.m. and Perry Sippo branch at 6 p.m. (register for either event at 330-452-0665 or www.starklibrary.org).

Sweets and murder

For a lighter take on Amish murder, if such a thing exists, there is “Toxic Toffee,” fourth in Tallmadge author Amanda Flower’s Amish Candy Shop mystery series (there also is an e-novella, “Criminally Cocoa,” with no murder).

Bailey, whose grandmother is an Amish candy shop owner in the fictional Holmes County community of Harvest, is a chocolatier in a ritzy shop in New York, and has returned to Ohio after six weeks of filming a TV show, “Bailey’s Amish Sweets." It’s Easter week, and she needs to help with the huge demand for chocolate bunnies and marshmallow eggs.

The pushy local busybody who has devised an “Easter Days” tourist promotion persuades Bailey to construct a record-setting toffee Easter bunny, seven feet tall. While they’re discussing the particulars in the town square, a friendly Amish rabbit farmer drops dead of an apparent heart attack.

It turns out that the farmer was poisoned by a lily-of-the-valley-laced toffee. The man’s son visits Bailey, knowing her history of solving candy-related murders, and brings her a stack of notes his father had received. They allude to something terrible he had done and warn that “God will have his revenge.” Bailey tells Eli to go to the police, but the Amish are known for their wariness of law enforcement. They agree that she will be a go-between, which doesn’t sit well with Bailey’s beau, Deputy Aiden Brody.

Eli also leaves her with his father’s special pet bunny, which she is ill-prepared to care for. What with visiting possible witnesses and suspects, working in the candy store and carving a giant toffee rabbit, it seems that she never gets anything to eat.

Flower's mysteries always are welcome, and this series is wacky and warm, with just enough mystery to intrigue.

“Toxic Toffee” (295 pages, softcover) costs $7.99 from Kensington. Amanda Flower will appear Saturday in a writers’ conference at the Medina Library (see below), and join Linda Castillo July 23 at two Stark County District Library branches.

Events

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Nordonia Hills branch, 9458 Olde Eight Road, Northfield): Children’s author Lindsay Bonilla (“Polar Bear Island”) tells stories, 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Vernon Odom Boulevard branch, 600 Vernon Odom Blvd., Akron): Lindsay Bonilla joins Storytime from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Portage Lakes branch, 4261 Manchester Road): Kathryn Hardgrove Popio, author of “Cross Keys, Carpet Bag, and Pen: Letters Depicting Three Ohio Families During the Civil War,” appears from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Parma-Snow branch, 2121 Snow Road): Seats may remain to see Daniel Silva, whose “The New Girl” is 19th in the bestselling Gabriel Allon thriller series, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. The $25 admission includes a copy of the book. Register at 216-661-4240.

Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights): Marissa Orr discusses "Lean Out: The Truth About Women, Power, and the Workplace," 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Brecksville branch, 9089 Brecksville Road): Fran Golden and David Molyneaux talk about “Unique Eats and Eateries of Cleveland, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Register at 440-526-1102.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Brooklyn branch, 4480 Ridge Road): Cincinnati native David Bell (“Cemetery” won the 2013 Prix Polar International de Cognac prize for best crime novel by an international author), talks about his psychological thriller with D.M. Pulley, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Register at 216-398-4600.

Medina County District Library (210 S. Broadway St.): A Writers Conference features workshops and lunch, with Amanda Flower, Ken Schneck (“Seriously . . . What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew”), Mara Purnhagen (Past Midnight teen paranormal series), Abby Vandiver (“Secrets, Lies, & Crawfish Pies”) and Greg Boose (“Achilles: The Deep Sky Saga,” middle-reader fantasy), 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Register at 330-725-0588.

Barnes & Noble (381 Boardman-Poland Road, Youngstown): Paula Lazor signs “Beyond the Box: How Hands-On Learning Can Transform a Child and Reform Our Schools,”  noon Saturday; Lori Leachman signs “The King of Halloween and Miss Firecracker Queen: A Daughter’s Tale of Family and Football,” 1 p.m. Saturday.

 

Send information about books of local interest to Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.