A death, a murder, the occult, a paramilitary organization, a potentially corrupt sheriff's office, a nosy reporter, a diva, a missing dog, bikers, Goths, a surprise ending, and a woman trying to piece together her own investigation among lies, rumor and innuendo all to clear a deputy's name. This is The Dunn Deal, the second in the Christine Sterling trilogy.
You don't need to read the first book in the series to be swept up and carried along in this book. The beginning is strong and sets up the story nicely. Suspicion builds gradually over time, just enough to pique our interest and tickle our brain. Catherine Leggitt creates characters we believe in and want to root for, and we happily go along for the ride. Her word pictures are painted so vividly, we see, hear, smell and feel everything that's happening. We are transported to locations and situations seamlessly without much thought. Thankfully, this isn't true for the limited mention of the occult. This is handled well without being graphic.
Suspense builds slowly. Clues and information are provided at just the right times so we don t feel spoon-fed or hand-held through the story. We can piece together our own ideas through Christine's eyes. We are hooked and kept guessing, as many answers aren't provided until the surprise ending.
Christine is wonderfully sculpted and drawn, from her interest in Zora Jane's fashion sense to her questioning why God created weeds. Her humor and honesty make her someone you'd love to have coffee with. Her humanness shines through and we see ourselves in her. She is just like us. Ordinary. But trusts in her instincts, which sometimes gets her into trouble, and follows her heart. We follow her as she links one bit of evidence after another, assumptions that sometimes become fact. We root for her as we follow her on her journey to unveil the truth behind the lies and rumors. And we know, despite all her shortcomings, the Lord will use her to solve this mystery.
The way her faith is, at times, weak is refreshing. We identify with her frailties and doubts because we are all like that, at some point or another. Having Zora Jane there to build Christine (and us) up with her unwavering faith in her Lord and His ability to handle anything is a wonderful reminder that we, too, need to trust and obey. The recurring theme of waiting on the Lord for He is good and has promised to never leave us, is a comfort. And the thought-provoking discussion questions at the end of the book are perfect for any book club or Bible study.
Anticipation builds throughout the story with several heart-stopping episodes. I didn't want to put the book down, and couldn't wait to pick it up. That to me is the sign of a good book. As an editor, I read for a living, and find it hard to find a book that keeps my interest. The fact The Dunn Deal had me reading late into the night, and enjoying the journey, proves this book is well worth the read.
--Janet Dimond, January 2012