May 19 2009
Dear Ms. Solomon:
I have to share with you a problem. Every book that I’ve read of yours, I have liked, One Deadly Sin being no exception to that rule. For some reason, though, I never have the “must read” urge strike me when I come across a title of yours. In this case, I received two copies of this book in advanced form and one in finished form but never cracked the spine of any one of those copies. I went ahead and bought the ecopy because I knew I wanted to read you yet it languished on my reader.
I need to reinforce in my head what a good writer you because every time I’ve read a book of yours, I always close it with the thought, “this chick can write.” I haven’t quite figured out the “why” of my hesitation but I’m telling myself right now that the next time your book comes in I should read it. This is my personal string on the finger reminder.
One Deadly Sin is about Edie Swann whose father committed suicide because he was accused of embezzling funds from the town factory. Her mother never recovered and Edie’s childhood was destroyed. She’s drifted fairly aimlessly until she wrests the names of individuals who visited her father the week before his death. She decides to return to her small town, twenty years after her father’s death, and shake things up.
Her plan is to leave little black angels in the possession these individuals. Her goal? Less clear. The little black angels signify the gargoyle that her mother had placed over Edie’s father’s grave. Until his name was cleared, the gargolye would remain. Edie didn’t know what the truth was but wanted to find out.
The problem is that the individuals who start receiving Edie’s gifts also start to die, one by one. Holt Drennan, the local sheriff, falls for Edie almost right away. Their flirting is totally hot but then Holt is faced with evidence that suggests Edie might be the cause of local individuals’ deaths.
This book had so many elements of past romantic suspense books that it was in danger of being cliched but where I thought the story would go right, you went left. The small town was shown with great delicacy, portraying the danger of the mob mentality but the big heart of a few people that could change public opinion. When Edie’s secret comes out, Holt feels justifiably betrayed by her silence but soon comes to realize that he loves and she loves him and that he will fight for her.
Edie is a rabble rouser, but not one with edges so sharp that she purposely hurts herself along with others. She shows compassion and horror at what she’s starting; guilt at not divulging the truth to Holt; and also a natural instinct to run away when the pressure becomes too much.
The romance is deftly woven throughout the story although most of the conflict is external. I really appreciated that Holt didn’t view Edie as a “bad girl” but just someone to whom he was greatly attracted. Edie’s attraction to Holt was also uninhibited by an “I hate everything in uniform” position. Neither character seemed stock to me, particularly because we were able to see many facets of the characters from being a friend, to a father, to a daughter, to a son, to a lover.
The “whodunit” portion of the book lost a bit of steam at the end. I felt that at least one character would have divulged the secrets toward the end but was never pressed because that would have ruined the penultimate action scene. I also felt like there were motivations that were a bit contrived in order to create more suspense and then surprise at the ending.
For those who like a well balanced romantic suspense, this book certainly fulfills both aspects. I look forward to reading the next Annie Solomon as soon as it drops on my doorstep.