Sunday, January 25, 2009

Latest Review of "The Devil Can Wait"

I was impressed by Marta Stephens’ first novel Silenced Cry, and was looking forward to her next book. I was not disappointed, finding The Devil Can Wait even more enjoyable. Again, as with her first book, I was drawn in by the realistic character interplay, especially the portrayal of the often frustrating work of a homicide detective.

The book begins in the middle of a messy crime spree, with the discovery of the latest teenage body in a string of possibly related murders. Short-handed and overworked, Sam Harper and his partner have no leads and a workload of aggravation. Throw in several more strange murders, a homicidal Colombian, a cursed ring that could bring the apocalypse, an attractive, vibrant reporter slated to become a damsel in distress, and Sam Harper is up against the clock to save lives by solving the case.

“He didn’t need one of Jack’s lectures on viable evidence. Not now. What he wanted was a neon sign pointing straight to the killer. As it was, there were as many possibilities for how that tiny bruise got on the boy’s finger as there were reasons to keep digging for answers.”

Marta Stephens does an admirable job of blending a solid crime mystery with an exotic supernatural touch and the undertone of religious beliefs. She never veers into the outrageous or unbelievable, but still manages to keep that small air of “what if”, integrating it all into a fabulous whole.

“The urgency that prodded him two minutes ago was suddenly gone. It’s nothing but hogwash, he told himself. A wives’ tale told to scare the shit out of weak men and innocent children.”

I am fast becoming a rabid fan of Ms. Stephens, appreciating her reliable plot work and her memorable characters. Her superb protagonist, Sam Harper, is a genuine, somewhat imperfect, thoroughly human personality. From his dedication to the job to his rather messy personal life, it is this character that breathes vivid life into the pages of her books.

A definite recommend for all fans of crime/mystery fiction.

Reviewed by A. F. Stewart

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