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Evil has its uses

This is the first instalment in what promises to be an intriguing thriller/mystery/detective series set in and around Arcadia, Texas.

There’s no paranormal twist to this story – yet. Author, Gae-Lynn Woods, does tweak the surface of the character “Hitch”–a psychopath who knows exactly where his talents lie–just enough to give us a hint, perhaps a misdirection, as to where she might be heading with this. Given my taste for things paranormal, that hint is all I need to bring me back for the next instalment.

For now, “Devil” does a good job of setting up the storyline, and establishes Ms. Woods’ credentials as an indie-writer you can rely on. Her prose is strong, and if there’s a bit too much exposition on occasion, I think we can forgive her. This is a debut novel, and perhaps she’s not yet confident that her readership will “get it”. I have a feeling that as she hits her pace with this series, the couple of “As you know, Bob” infodumps, will be left on the cutting room floor.

Apart from that one little hint that there is another layer to be revealed, this novel is your standard detective-thriller/murder-mystery. A series of apparently unrelated events: a mutilated skeleton, arson, the murder of a prominent businessman by his abused wife and revelations that respected members of their community are involved in a morally twisted, pseudo-Christian cult, begin to reveal themselves in interesting ways as Detective Cass Elliot and her colleagues unpick the evidence.

The pacing is unhurried; there’s plenty of time to get to know the characters and their relationships. The author has gone to a great deal of trouble to set up her cast, crew and backdrop. The heroine has enough spice and sufficient history to make her interesting, while the supporting characters are well drawn and carry the story along.

Unfortunately for Cass (but interestingly for us) the end result of her actions bring her to the attention of the cult leader’s secret instrument of evil; a predator down to his DNA, who now has her in his sights. I’m looking forward to finding out just how dark and deep Gae-Lynn Woods is prepared to go with her sequel.

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