Friday, 22 February 2008

My Soul to Keep by Melanie Keep

Melanie Wells is a Texan and a psychotherapist in marriage and family therapy and comes from a musical family which contributes to her rhythm of writing. She is also clearly a traditional Christian as this shapes the book imagery, plot and narrative. As a consequence don’t expect natural street talk as the bad guys don’t curse although this is not handled in a clumsy way.

The novel seen as psychological thriller/mystery is the 3rd in a series: the first was When Day of Evil Comes when the 30 + redhead female hero, Dylan Foster a psychology professor in a Christian University, is framed for a murder and the second is The Soul Hunter which deals with a Psychotic stalker. The events and characters of first two are echoed and hinted at throughout this novel but it does stand alone. A constant theme in the three books is the fight between good and evil which is reflected in the every day fact that she is plagued by a demon called Peter Terry and helped by a guardian angel. She also prays and talks to God, has psychic insights from dreams etc. And to be fair it’s hinted at and suggested rather then clich├ęd white robes and wings or red eyes and horns.

To be honest not my type of Christianity but think TV shows where angels drift in to people’s lives and help them resolve emotional and ethical concerns rather then Buffy the vampire slayer. You don’t have to see this traditional Christian view as real and true as I am sure many bible-belt Americans would but as part of a narrative world to which you the reader enters. No difference really in entering the peculiar 1950’s Agatha Christie’s English social world of country houses, weekend parties, dressing for dinner, afternoon teas etc.

The story starts with a picnic in a park (the smart park rather then the local run down one) with Dylan out with two friends and their young children. Nicholas’s mother had been raped by the stalker from The Soul Hunter but had kept the child (anti abortion and forgiveness message). Christine the little girl is deeply sensitive to the supernatural and her parents are rich but caring- father and brothers out delivering aid and the bible to the staving masses (a rich man can enter the kingdom of heaven). Then Nicholas is snatched from the park and the hunt begins to save his life. USA statistics show that more then 76% of abducted children are killed within three hours of the abduction so tension amounts as time seeps away

Christine the little girl was also snatched but then rejected as the wrong one as we find that she is psychically linked to the fate of Nicholas. Dylan struggles to make sense of the events as they unfold whilst dealing with her stalled career and hapless love life. And the past comes back facing her to deal with issues left hanging in the previous stories.

Don’t expect big plot twists as this is a narrative and character driven story. Both of which are done well in a made for TV movie sort of way. It’s not cutting edge existential metafiction…and thank god for that I hear many of you say. Would I recommend it? Well it’s not a book I would have chosen to read as it was an Advanced Readers Copy sent to me for a review. I am not a fan of Mystery/Crime writing or supernatural going on so was I the wrong person to be contacted!! But actually I enjoyed it and may even read the first two as I warmed to the Dylan Foster character and can see the potential for a good TV series along the lines of Ghost Whisper.

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John