This rape case is an exception: The victim is more than willing to testify. And there’s abundant evidence to put the suspect behind bars. Just one thing bothers Detective Larry Millsaps. Young and beautiful Melissa Nelson seems to know almost too much about the evidence needed to convict her attacker. The unfolding investigation unearths a brutal track record on the part of the suspect … and a stunning revelation of Melissa’s own haunting past that could do far worse than destroy her credibility. Caught in a deadly conflict between the ironies of the law and the demands of his Christian convictions, Millsaps finds himself protecting Melissa from a psychopathic stalker’s lethal game of cat-and-mouse … even as evidence collects that could send to prison not an inhuman criminal, but the woman Millsaps has come to love.
This is a wonderfully suspenseful and heart-racing novel about the motivations of a rapist and the young woman set on catching and convicting him. It presents a clear Biblical depiction of right and wrong while at the same time providing an emotional rationale as to the motivations of young Melissa. One could easily argue that she certainly was justified in the reasons why she acted as she did. In fact, one would find her hard to blame except that what she does is legally (and morally) wrong. Because Melissa acts in a manner that is wrong, there are difficult consequences to her actions. While she does appear to be “rescued” from suffering the full consequences for her actions near the end (which I found a bit incongruent to the underlying theme of accounting for one’s actions no matter the intent,) she does submit herself to receiving the punishment for her wrong choices.
I found Larry and Melissa’s relationship to be somewhat contrived. Larry’s feelings towards Melissa are all based on her completely false presentation of herself. I grimace when love is described as some “romantic feeling that defies all logic” as seems to be the case with Larry falling in love with a woman who has only told him half truths and lies. True Biblical love is a choice that goes deeper than mere feelings. Larry didn’t know Melissa long enough to get over the emotional highs and realize real love in the very short time they “knew” each other. I found it to be too unbelievable and somewhat disappointing to see the societal depiction of romantic love in a Christian novel.
I also found Melissa’s “conversion” or “rededication” to God and to the truth to be a little too quick. For a woman who has been obsessed with catching a rapist for years to suddenly give it all to God and submit herself to some pretty severe punishment was just a little hard to believe. I don’t doubt that with God anything is possible, but I was a little skeptical in this case. I also found it a little unbelievable that she would vow to return to the prison at least once a week (an possibly more often) to continue the Bible study that had just begun. For such a timid little character to actually want to return to the jail of her own free will once she is free, caused me to raise my eyebrows. I’d think she would want to flee and never look back! Perhaps I need to give God’s redeeming power a little more credit here (besides, it’s only fiction after all!)
I found the descriptions of scenes in the jail to be very well done (not that I have any actual experience to base it on.) I felt the description of the women and their interactions with one another to be quite believable and I often felt I was walking the hallways with the characters.
Although it may seem that I have a few problems with the believability of the book, I must say it was a tremendously exciting read and I had a difficult time putting the book down. All of the “problems” I mentioned above were really very minor and didn’t negatively affect the reading experience over all. They were niggling annoyances more than anything else.
I would rate this book as great and describe it as a mystery with super heart-thumping action scenes; excellent buildup of tension to the climax; and several smaller climaxes before the main one. The character motivations are strong, the plot smooth and fast, the Biblical theme fairly consistent throughout, and the story was marvelous. I’m sure anyone who enjoys mystery / crime / real life thrillers will love this book!