Review: Devious by Lisa Jackson

Pub Date: April 2011
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Kensington
Length: 439 pages
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

AAR has a blog post about authors repeating themselves that's feeling very timely right about now. Because as much as I love Lisa Jackson's Bentz and Montoya books, the newest installment, Devious, should be titled Déjà Vu.

In other words, it's another book about two detectives in New Orleans investigating priests, nuns, and a scandal or three involving the Catholic Church.

The surprising thing for me is even with the 'haven't I read this before?' vibe, I enjoyed the book immensely. But there are a few problems...

 As with many of Ms. Jackson's books, there is a romance inside the suspense. This time, it's between Valerie and her estranged husband, Slade.  Valerie, a former cop, has moved from Texas to New Orleans to start over after leaving her husband (whom she believes slept with her sister). Slade travels to New Orleans determined to sort out the mess of his marriage. He arrives right before the police, who notify Valerie that her sister, Camille, has been murdered.

I had some serious issues with Valerie's character. Valerie is supposed to be a former cop. But she doesn't really act like one. There's no observational skills, no awareness of her surroundings, no real indication that she'd ever been a cop other than a passing reference or two to things she "should know because she's a cop."

I also had some issues with how choppy the whole book was. We jumped from one point of view  to another, then another. We see things from at least 10 different character's viewpoints. Which means we never get to spend time in any one character's head, getting to know them and learning their quirks. One particular irritant is the use of first person, present tense to show a killer's POV. I am not a fan of 1st person present. Especially when the rest of the book is told in the 3rd person.

Loose ends: I hesitate to count the number of loose ends this story has. Aside from some obvious sequel baiting, I'm not really sure why the book ended where it did.  Several characters, both good and bad, are left in a bit of limbo. If those threads get tied up in another book, I can only hope that it's not another one set in or near a Catholic anything. Because I'm honestly getting more than a bit fed up with the same basic premise/setting/plot.

In spite of all of the flaws the book had, I found myself sucked in. I enjoyed the mystery, but I felt like Ms. Jackson didn't take enough time and care with this story. It's not one of her better books, but fans will probably enjoy it anyway.

My Grade: C
The Blurb:

The crime scene at St. Marguerite’s cathedral in New Orleans is shocking, even to seasoned detectives like Rick Bentz and Reuben Montoya. A novice nun named Sister Camille has been found dressed in a yellowed bridal gown and viciously garroted, her body covered with an altar cloth. 

Valerie Houston is devastated by her sister’s death. For weeks, she’d begged Camille to leave St. Marguerite’s, where she seemed determined to live as some kind of martyr. But Camille had a knack for making bad choices — she joined the convent in part because she’d fallen for Val’s soon-to-be ex-husband, Slade. 

Convinced the police aren’t doing enough, Val begins to investigate. Slade, on a mission to repair their marriage, is determined to help her. But the deeper Val’s inquiries go, the more twisted the case becomes. St. Marguerite’s is far from the tranquil retreat many believe, and everyone, from handsome Father Frank O’Toole to the mysterious Mother Superior, has their own agenda. Despite their closeness, even Camille had a hidden life Val never suspected. But someone knew about Camille’s past — and Val’s, too. Now she has no choice but to catch a devious, depraved killer intent on purging St. Marguerite’s of all its sins — before she becomes the next victim…

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