“Works of Darkness” by V. B. Tenery is a contemporary Christian romantic suspense novel set in Texas. A construction crew finds a skeleton of a young girl while they are tearing down the old retreat center on the outskirts of town. Matt Foley, a local police detective, begins investigating the cold case of an abducted girl that happened 25 years ago.
Sara Bradford was friends with Penny, the abducted girl, and doesn’t realize that she has memories about the event that could finger the suspect. But Matt considers her to be a suspect in the death of her husband who was killed in a hit and run accident just a few years ago.
The book is moderately well written. Some of the descriptions and scenes have been fleshed out well, but there are other passages where the writing becomes tired and mechanical. The Christian and romantic elements are not fully developed. The dialogue is stilted at times, too. And while I’m willing to forgive a handful of typos, this book has more than that amount. It could use another rewrite.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is the number of characters used in the story. I’m one of those people who have problems remembering names, so I prefer a small cast of characters. A mystery or suspense story needs a victim, investigator, suspect, false leads, and witnesses. The characters also need a few friends or relatives that they can discuss their feelings with. This story goes beyond that list. Some of these people just aren’t needed. They don’t provide a clue, serve as a false lead or suspect, act as a sounding board, or add anything to the case. One example of this is a family of five that dies in a car crash, leaving Sara to adopt two children. They have nothing to do with the case, and having children doesn’t make Matt fall in love with her. There’s no logical reason or purpose for having them in the story at all.
Penny is the governor’s niece. While this fact adds a bit of urgency to solving the case, the facts could have been discussed between the detectives instead of introducing the governor, his secretary and associates. These people don’t offer any forward movement to the story, and just slow it down.
They also ruin the ending. Most mysteries come to a conclusion, and then have one more chapter to tie up all the loose ends. Each of the additional characters creates an additional loose end. So, after the case is solved, the story continues with chapter after chapter of explaining what happened to all of those additional people. As they say, you want to go out with a bang, not a fizzle. All of the additional details make the story peter out instead of ending with a “tah-dah!”
But, the author deserves credit for developing a reasonably believable plot and likeable characters. If you’re the type of person who can go to a big party and say hello to everyone there, then you might enjoy all the additional stories going on at the same time.