An atmospheric east Texas setting and the author’s clearly passionate feelings about some less than honest televangelists are the stand-outs in what is otherwise a pretty ordinary romantic suspense effort.
Six years ago metal sculptor Bay Butler was convicted of a murder she did not commit. After spending those years in prison, her conviction is unexpectedly overturned when new evidence is uncovered by an investigation undertaken at the request of Madeleine Ridgeway, Bay’s influential benefactor.
When the wary Bay returns to Tyler, Texas, it’s to find that Mrs. Ridgeway clearly expects a fairly substantial return on her investment. Not only does she find Bay a home and a workshop, she also buys her an expensive wardrobe, pressures Bay into attending her wealthy and powerful church, and seems to be expecting both Bay and her son to fall in with her clearly evident matchmaking plans. This woman clearly doesn’t understand the concept of “limits.”
Not surprisingly, Bay isn’t comfortable with any of this, especially when the man Madeleine assigns to drive her around town turns out to be a bit too eager to let himself into Bay’s home when she’s not there.
Of course, in a book like this, you know there has to be a cop and in this case it’s one Jack Burke, a detective who was never entirely comfortable with Bay’s long ago conviction. But, unfortunately for Jack, his nosing around the case results in some unpleasant consequences when he is demoted – a request he believes can be directly traced to Madeleine Ridgeway. Clearly, Mrs. Ridgeway has something to hide and both Jack and Bay intend to find out what it is.
There were several things I liked here. Jack is an appealing character and the passages regarding Bay’s metalworking career were interesting. Equally, I think the author did a wonderful job of making me feeling the heat and humidity of a hot Texas summer. And, it has to be said, the author is clearly a bit disgusted with the more commercial aspects of some churches today and that disgust fairly leaped off the page.
But, when all is said and done, the book isn’t particularly exciting, and even though marketed as a romantic suspense novel, there isn’t much suspenseful about it – most readers over the age of 12 will likely figure out the solution to the mystery before they get there. As for the romantic part of the equation, the relationship between Jack and Bay never really came to life for me, even though I liked them both.
A solid enough, but hardly an exceptional effort, No Sanctuary could be the kind of mindless book perfect for one of those nights when you need a book that’s good, but not too good, if you know what I mean. Because, believe me, I don’t think you’ll have much trouble putting this one down.