Friday, August 12, 2011

Facing Evil by CL Hart

Publisher:                 P. D. Publishing

Sometime soon a lesbian novel is going to make the crossover to mainstream publishing and perhaps onto the movie screen. It will be one that, despite the fact that it features a lesbian romance, will be encased in a story that is so compelling the audience cannot ignore it and will be drawn to even though the two lead characters are both women. That story could very well be Facing Evil by CL Hart or one very much like it.

Facing Evil is a multi-layered mystery with tremendous suspense and enough twists and turns to keep any mystery fan happy. Detective Abby Stansfield has been trying to bring Billy Ward to trial for a series of murders of young women and has just had the case thrown out of court on a technicality. Abby loses control outside of the courtroom and attacks Billy, which results in a long suspension from the police department. She retreats to a mountain resort where she hopes she will regain control of herself and restore balance to her life. There is where she meets Sarah McMurphy, who is renting the neighboring cabin, and they begin to develop a relationship. Before it can progress very far, however, Abby is called back into town by another murder. While she is investigating that, Billy goes completely over the edge, takes Sarah as his next victim, ends up dead, and Abby finds herself on trial for killing him. The book then goes into great detail juxtaposing the terrible ordeal Sarah has to go through to recover from the horrible wounds inflicted on her by Billy with the efforts to prepare for Abby's trial where the prosecution is seeking the death penalty. As all of this unfolds, there are separate mysteries about Sarah, Billy and especially Abby that feed into the central plot. Unlike many mysteries, you will not see the answers coming until the last minute and, if you think you've figured out some of the plot, hold on until you get through the next page.

Hart has filled this book with a host of complex characters and situations. Billy is not a run-of-the-mill maniac, and Abby has a darkness to her that isn't normally associated with a hero. Sarah hides her own secrets and stumbles blindly into a situation that almost costs her life. One of the best parts of the book is to see her character strengthen and grow as the story progresses. The characters just flow from the pages and are so richly portrayed. Among them is Abby's partner Lincoln, who is willing to sacrifice his own career to save her life. Abby's Uncle Nathan carries her secrets with him and has to find a way to save her without destroying the family. There are Helga and Gunter who run the resort and provide quiet strength. However, rising above them all is the wolf hybrid Buck, Abby's devoted companion, who will steal your heart and make it wrench at one point in the book.

Hart uses a flashback technique very uniquely in this book. She has the prologue in the present and then Chapter 1 begins the flashback to how the story started. Then, about half way through the book, you're suddenly back where the prologue ended and the story goes on from there. It creates an unusual effect, but works extremely well the way it is used.

If lesbian literature is going to cross into the mainstream, it will be done by books that feature stories that anyone can relate to and get lost in. The fact that two women love each other will not drive the story, but will be an important part of how the characters relate to each other. What will open the doors for all of the other stories will be a book/movie where whoever reads or sees it says, "Hey, that was a great story and did you notice that the two women were in love?" Facing Evil could be that book.

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