The role of religion and the challenges of being a person of faith in a secular world are well illustrated in Stephanie Jaye Evans’ involving debut.
Minister Walker “Bear” Wells is accustomed to offering emotional support and spiritual counseling to his congregation in the upscale Texas town of Sugar Land. Now Bear’s compassion and help are needed by the family of prominent attorney Graham Garcia, who was found murdered on the golf course. Although Graham was Catholic, he had been seeing Bear for spiritual advice, a situation that police detective James Wanderley insists is crucial to his investigation. While Bear avoids the detective’s questions, the minister becomes closer to Honey Garcia, Graham’s widow and the daughter of a wealthy oil tycoon, and her rebellious son,Alex. Bear’s involvement with the Garcia family is further complicated when he learns his youngest daughter, Jo, is dating Alex, who is suspected of killing his father.
In Faithful Unto Death, Evans finely balances Bear’s devotion to God and his family while showing the minister’s very human flaws and frailties. Evans carefully makes Bear’s involvement in the investigation a natural progression from ministering to the troubled family. Bear never thinks of himself as a sleuth and that sense of realism makes the plot stronger. Bear’s quick wit and his fine intellect are appealing, although long stretches of dialogue take away some of the story’s impact. Faithful Unto Death is a delightful beginning for what should be a long-running series.
Evans is one of the authors who got her start through the Malice Domestic conference when she was awarded one of its two 2010 William F. Deeck -Malice Domestic Grants for Unpublished Writers. Faithful Unto Death shows that grant has been put to good use.