Dark Deception – Nancy Mehl – Defenders of Justice #2 – Bethany House Publishers – Published 2 May 2017





Kate O’Brien has been leading a quiet life in small-town Shelter Cove, Arkansas, for the past four years when her past suddenly comes roaring back to life. Four years ago, she and her twin sister were attacked by an elusive serial killer. Only Kate survived, and it was her drawing of the attacker–along with some last-minute evidence–that convicted the suspect. 
She’s been in witness protection ever since, but new evidence suggests the convicted man isn’t the murderer and she’s been subpoenaed to testify in the new trial. Nervous about the risk, she’ll only agree if the same marshal who protected her during the original trial escorts her to St. Louis. 

Deputy U.S. Marshal Tony DeLuca accepts the assignment to bring Kate to the trial, remembering how her strength impressed him. While in Shelter Cove, however, he gets a call from his chief, advising them to stay in Shelter Cove until a new development in the case can be straightened out. But when Kate’s safety is threatened, Tony must race against the clock to keep her alive and put this ugly case to rest before anyone else gets killed.

My thoughts

Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed with this novel. Dark Deception didn’t live up to the same standards as book one in the series, which combined romance with lots of suspense and good mystery solving. While Dark Deception combined the same three components, I was frustrated by this story that I thought predictable and lacking in romantic development.

Kate O’Brien survived a brutal attack that killed her sister. Kate’s testimony helped put a serial killer in jail. Now, new evidence suggest that Kate might have been wrong and her attacker has been released. U.S. Marshal Tony DeLuca is tasked with returning to Kate and convincing her to stand as a witness once again. But when Kate is kidnapped, Tony will have to uncover the truth about the Blue-Eyed Killer once and for all if he is to save her life.

Dark deception promised so much – a romance set against endless tension, and a really interesting mystery about the identify of a serial killer. Unfortunately, instead I found this novel to be really flat and uninteresting. There wasn’t a lot of romance in the story. The book relies on the characters’ feelings that developed during their time together the first time Kate was a witness. Now they have reconnected, but I didn’t think there was enough to explain why their relationship or emotions developed further. Yes, they both experience some tough situations, but their connection didn’t grab me (I’d argue there wasn’t much of a connection at all). However, I did really like the conversation they had about grief and loss. It’s a hard conversation and it touched on some really important topics like suicide and how that leads to more grief and loss. I thought that was the best thing in the story.

The whole book is based around building suspense. Unfortunately, I guessed who the bad guys were and why, pretty quickly, so the big twist wasn’t much of a twist for me. The thing that really ruined both the suspense and mystery was the incompetence of everyone, especially Tony. Can I just say, if I needed protection I wouldn’t want my life in the hands of these people. Tony was forever disregarding orders and standard procedures, saying he was all about following his instincts but ignoring his gut feelings, being totally unaware of his surroundings, judgemental of people, or just generally being really annoying. And he wasn’t the only one. Like the guy who says, oh by the way here is some really important information someone told me to give to you that will solve the case, but I forgot. Whoops. No wonder the boss of these guys is so angry all the time! The only person who did any decent detective work was small-town policeman Leon. I really liked Leon and I enjoyed his sections in the story – they saved me from not finishing this book at all. The ending was also disappointing, I thought. The reader is given a conclusion, but it comes right at the very last second and, once again, is down more to chance than good detective work.

Overall, I was sadly disappointed in this book. Hopefully other readers will enjoy it, but it wasn’t the right book for me.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

More information

Category: Fiction

Genre: Christian suspense.

Themes:  Murder, serial killers, crime, grief, U.S. Marshalls, romance, suicide, witness protection.

Published:  2 May 2017 by Bethany House Publishers

Format: Paperback, ebook.

ISBN: 9780764217784

Find it on Goodreads