By Darrell James
Bond server Del Shannon, is recruited to go undercover with ATFE agent Frank Falconet to find a missing FBI agent at a religious compound in the rural Kentucky town of Nazareth Church. Coincidentally, this assignment is the closest lead she’s had in her quest to find her mother. Working against a charismatic and powerful messianic leader in one Silas Rule, Shannon and Falconet attempt to ferret out the secrets of the isolated town and it’s almost hypnotized population.
This is another story of good guys going up against a money and sex hungry religious conman.
Del Shannon: Field operative doing undercover work looking for missing people, usually criminals. 28. Tattoo of a crescent moon on her wrist. Short hair.
Silas Rule: Leader of a religious sect. Black eyes, white hair, deep voice. Charming and seducing.
Frank Falconet: ATFE agent out of New York. Just coming off recovering from a gunshot wound from his last assignment. Separated from his wife and daughter. Thinking about giving up the job. Being reassigned to help out the FBI. Uses profanity a lot.
Randal Willingham: Del’s supervisor and owner of Desert Sand Covert in Tuscon. Formerly in Naval intelligence. Also is sort of a father figure to Del.
Roy Shannon: 56. Del’s father. Alcoholic. Refuses to give Del any information on her mother.
Darius Lemon: FBI agent, black. Falconet’s handler for the case.
Nigel Fontaneau: Rule’s assistant who, during tent revivals, give Silas tips on the people attending. Midget.
Cullen Rule: Silas’ teenage son. Rebel and bad boy.
The different quirks of the characters are fairly interesting but it feels like bits of character outlines plunked down. Yes, there is some depth, but they didn’t really draw me in. Del is different with her adeptness at catching bad guys and her short hair. The short assistant to Rule is unique. The townsfolk and Rule’s assistants, including Nigel, all act like they know Rule is a psychopath, but are cowed by threats of mental torture to stand up against him.
Falconet’s profanity seems slightly forced and it’s not absolutely necessary. It’s as if he spouts the words because he always has. Same with Del’s rare profanity. Falconet’s words in many of his sentences made me stumble in my reading. Not that they didn’t make sense, but some of the endings were off. Rule’s speeches about sin and godliness are standard fare but I didn’t really feel the fire.
Slow moving. The story doesn’t necessarily plod along, but I kept expecting a little more action, something exciting happening to rev up things. James skims over the mental torture of the federal agent. I kept trying to decide if this was more character driven than plot driven, but every time I did, I didn’t get the depth I expected.