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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

Nancy Mehl’s latest, Dark Deception, the second in the Defenders of Justice series, has been out a few months now. My apologizes to Bethany House and the author for posting this review so long after receiving the book, but it was a scheduling matter.

With this book we’re back in Missouri and the U. S. Marshal’s office under Richard Batterson. So, let’s get down to it.

Playing dead was harder than she ever could have imagined.

Great opening line that gets the adrenaline flowing right off the bat for a novel about a serial killer, don’t you think? In fact the prologue heralded a story with nail-biting tension.

Six years ago, Deputy Marshal Tony DeLuca was involved in the case of a twenty-year-old college student who survived an attack that killed her twin sister. Because some of the evidence that convicted the “Blue-Eyed Killer” for the crime was proven to be tainted and the court released him from prison, Tony must find that survivor and convince her to come out of hiding and return to testify again. 

Kate O’Brien has established a new life for herself in the Ozarks. She has a new identity and a restaurant business, but her world is rocked when Tony arrives to take her back to St. Louis, somewhere she isn’t about to go.

Without getting into too much detail, this was a complicated novel with a lot going on from various points of view. At some stages, it was a bit confusing trying to keep everyone straight. There were plenty of twists. While I suspected the villain early on, I can’t say I was completely sure…which is a good thing. However, I had a lukewarm response to the hero and heroine. There were times when I found Kate a little too hard-edged and other times when I sympathized with her. Ms. Mehl gave the hero a quirky “tell” I think I’d find unattractive in real life. I also felt some of the dialog was a little cliché.

But the pace is fast and, overall, I’d give Dark Deception four stars for the action and entertaining suspense. For me, though, it wasn’t as good as Fatal Frost, the first book in the series.

If you’ve read this novel, let me know your thoughts about it.

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