Blind Faith

Written by CJ Lyons — Sarah Durandt’s husband and young son were murdered by a psychopathic paedophile, Damian Wright. He goes to his grave two years later via a lethal injection in a Texas prison, without revealing where the bodies are. Having witnessed Wright’s death, Sarah returns to her hometown of Hopewell, New York, but is unable to find closure, despite being comforted by Alan Easton, a lawyer who specialises in victims’ rights. She is haunted by the fear that the remains of Sam and Josh lie buried somewhere in the wild terrain of Snakehead Mountain, which looms above the village.

At FBI headquarters in Quantico, Special Agent Caitlyn Tierney is battling to return to full health after a serious head injury which almost killed her. Plagued by migraines, her composure is not helped by a visit from Clemens, a DNA expert. While tidying up files and case reports, he has discovered that the investigation into the deaths of Sam and Josh Durandt – conducted by Tierney’s ex boss Jack Logan – has serious flaws, including a faulty DNA match. Meanwhile Sarah has gone exploring up in the mountains, and finds a body tangled up in the debris at the foot of a waterfall. Her relief that it is not her husband is short-lived, and her discovery sets in motion a chilling chain of events.

This is an entertaining novel which constantly exceeds the speed limit from page one. Hardly anyone is who they actually appear to be in the first instance, and the author keeps the plot twists and surprises just about credible. There are some breathtaking descriptions of the savage but beautiful Adirondacks scenery in which many of the action scenes are played out, and there is a desperate energy about Sarah and Caitlyn as they try to keep their heads above water, sometimes literally, as crisis follows crisis.

The book is not without its flaws. Successful crime fiction does not necessarily group its protagonists into tightly-labelled categories according to how good or evil they are, and there is always room for ambiguity. The problem here is that every new chapter seemed to reveal yet another betrayal, or yet another piece of double-dealing and duplicity. If the intention was to eventually narrow ‘the good guys’ down to just one or two people, then it certainly succeeded, but I found the constantly spinning moral compass of the plot distracting. I was not completely convinced by the ghoulish Russian gangster, despite his horrific propensity for violence. Perhaps he was just a little overstated and too colourful. The most chilling fictional villains have more than a touch of The Mundanity of Evil about them.

These criticisms aside, Blind Faith is well-written and tightly structured. The pace is electric, the scene setting is faultless, and towards the end of the book, you will ignore clamouring children and insistent phone calls just to see how it all plays out. I liked the way that the vulnerable and fragile Sarah gains strength as she battles the web of deceit and violence which threatens to overwhelm her and her family, while the battle hardened FBI agent Caitlyn is the woman whose resolve comes nearest to being shattered. CJ Lyons has produced an enjoyable action thriller, with a touch of romance thrown in for good measure.

Little, Brown
Print/Kindle/iBook
£1.99

CFL rating: 3 Stars

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