by Nancy Mehl
I'm sad to admit that Mehl is a new to me author. But when I was given the opportunity to read and review Deadly Echoes the cover intrigued me so I jumped at the chance... Then I realized it was book 2 in a series and I was blessed by my friend Amy who gifted me her copy of book 1!!!
Book 1, Gathering Shadows, was a good book but it wasn't one that I would read twice. Book 2 however redeemed the series for me! I truly enjoyed the characters in this story, felt the romance was better played, and loved that the book had me guessing to the very end! Now I cannot wait to read book 3!
Mehl uses a good balance of prose and dialogue in her writing. The conversations among characters seem realistic and well thought out. I especially enjoyed the interactions between the adults and the teenager because she didn't downplay the teenager's anger and angst.
The main character, Sarah, was really easy for me to relate with on a lot of levels since I used to be a teacher and I found myself reading her inner thoughts about her classroom and students reliving my own past. Of course I haven't been through the trauma she has been through but since I related on other levels it made it easier to feel her pain even in areas I couldn't relate to. I found myself admiring her commitment to her job and her family.
This book has a great pace. You are intrigued fairly quickly in what happened in Sarah's childhood and also what is happening in her present day and Mehl gives you just enough clues and twists and turns throughout the middle to keep the pages turning quickly. But even with all the clues I didn't figure out who the killer was and I loved that about this book. I hate it when I have the story figured out before the end!
For some readers this book might have too much tension but for me it was just about right. There are a lot of characters to keep track of but for me it just added to the suspense. Since it jumped between the fictional town of Sancutary and Kansas City quite a bit it meant extra characters but I enjoyed the challenge of keeping track of everyone. And of course I enjoyed references to KC since I'm from the area :)
I said in the beginning that the "romance was better played" because I was disappointed with the romance in book 1. I have to admit I wasn't 'wowed' with the romance in this book as much as some other "romantic suspense" books I've read but I really did think it played out very well. Obviously in the midst of grief and death is not the time for "swoon worthy romance" and I thought the amount in this book was well done for the setting. There were just enough "awww" moments to make me happy without it seeming inappropriate for the time and place.
This was a great suspense novel with just a twinge of "Mennonite fiction" thrown in since Sanctuary is a mixture of Mennonite and English characters. I didn't mind the hint of Mennonite fiction in the story but I was glad that it wasn't super prevalent since that isn't a genre I enjoy reading and had no idea it would be a part of the story line when I picked up the first book. I appreciated that both churches in the community accepted Sarah even though she isn't Mennonite since unfortunately some Mennonite churches are not that open and accepting to "outsiders"
As I said before I'm looking forward to where Mehl will take this series next. But I do hope that she'll include an epilogue of sorts with this books characters in the next one!
Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.