William Sirls new release The Sinners Garden sets the narrative hook deep with a story of redemption and compassion tucked inside the transformative power of forgiveness. It’s also an intriguing tale of choices, change and murder with characters haunted by divine encounters, miraculous flower fields, a broken iPod that talks, even a mysterious “Summer Santa” with a personal agenda.
In the prologue readers meet Judi, her three-year-old son, Andy and his father Todd. Judi gave Andy permission to fall asleep on the couch that particular night in hopes his father would tuck him into bed instead of drinking. She can’t begin to imagine the life-changing events that will soon transpire because of her decision, a decision she will always blame herself for. If she had only known, done it differently…
The prologue sets the stage for an insightful narrative that begins eleven years later after Judi and Todd’s divorce. Andy, now a long-haired angry teen, identifies with Eric from the “Phantom of the Opera.” He continues to believe a lie so monstrous it destroys his relationship with his mother.
Then there’s Rip, Judi’s former drug-dealing brother, now released from prison. He’s Andy’s only confidant and friend. Yet Rip has problems of his own as he adjusts to life as an ex-con. To remind himself who he now serves Rip places a plaque over the lintel of his humble abode that reads, “Servants Entrance” to remind him of Whose he now is.
Judi's disfiguring leg scars are symptomatic of the guilt she carries from that horrible night, also reflected in her shroud-like sadness. She’s forgotten how to smile and wonders why her once-loving son has turned against her. Without intending to, Judi only reinforces the monstrous lie Andy believes.
Add Heather, a small town cop, part time “village keeper” and part time “mom” whose father was murdered. She wants to be the best cop she can be, yet her heart lies elsewhere. She’s also the first to see the all-in-black masked intruder who makes the “sign of the cross” that earns him the nickname “Summer Santa” when he leaves exact amounts behind for those in need. Then there’s the thread of murder that weaves throughout the story tucked inside a fantasy shrouded mystery readers won’t soon forget.
Sirls writes like a seasoned author from his realistic dialogue, to characters and plots within plots that take readers to the edge and jumps off, flipping pages faster and faster. The book should carry a warning—“Kleenex© required!” This is an excellent last minute gift choice for any mystery lover.
'The Sinners Garden' by William Sirls, Thomas Nelson, December 17, 2013, 352 Pages, 978-1401687380, $12.99
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