Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Witness by Dee Henderson

I don't know if I can describe this story without spoiling it, but I guess that's fine because I wouldn't recommend it anyhow, so let me save you the trouble by just telling you what it's about.

Kelly sees a bunch of people get killed where she works by the ex-boyfriend of one of her colleagues. She, in shock, hides in the bathroom. Eventually someone reports her and she tells them what she saw, including who did it. Conveniently, the man she talks to is a pretty senior police officer in this semi-little town.

Then she disappears.

He figures out who she is and goes to her house. They talk a little more and form a bond. She leaves, but gives him one more opporunity to talk. She's embroiled in something big and has been on the run for years from a multi-faceted criminal who's running his operation from jail.

She has information that will dismantle his operation and allow the feds to seize all his money.

Then she disappears. By the way, her name is Amanda, not Kelly, but her friends call her Amy and her family calls her Mandy.

Then three years pass.

The police officer is now chief. Someone dies who was very wealthy and he leaves the money to two sisters who never knew he was their dad. They wish their third sister, who died years ago, could be with them to share in the windfall, even though he wasn't her dad.

Before I figure out the connection, still wondering where this is all going, I pick the book up to start reading again and read the back cover which mentions "Amy and her two sisters." Well, while that was obviously about to come out quickly, it ticks me off because it does spoil it temporarily.

The third sister resurfaces and this semi-small police department has the money to keep her in some safe house and the two sisters are brought out to the safe house to learn that their sister is still alive, but that they can't stay reunited, it's just a brief visit.

By now, the police chief is in love with Amy, one of his best deputies is engaged to another sister (they had been dating for years) and the deputy's partner, the police chief's other best deputy, is falling in love with the third sister. It's beginning to feel like a Saturday Night Live movie where everyone gets paired off in the end.

But then someone rather gruesomely kills the dead rich guy's former driver. That sucks. Is it a warning? Is it the criminal coming after the sisters with the new-found money since he knows Amy was their sister?

And then a second former life-long employee dies, the bookkeeper. Again in the victim's blood at the crime scene is the words "I know the family secret." Something funny about the money?

All the while, some characters pray to God and others fret about their friends who don't know Jesus. I asked Lori if Dee Henderson was trying to evangelism in her books and she said that Henderson was a Christian writer. Other than the characters being pretty squeaky without any vices, I didn't understand what all the murder and stuff had to do with Christianity and the evangelism was too blatant to be effective, in my opinion.

And then one of the sisters is murdered. The one who was engaged. I didn't see that coming and it kinda sucked. One of the local reporters seems to know a lot about the crimes and has even managed to get photos where he shouldn't have had access. Is someone on the police force providing him with copies of the negatives from the police crime scene photos?

I haven't competely finished the book yet and Marley is still #1 so I wondered if the Christian Bookstore near Barnes and Noble has a Bestseller section of its own. It doesn't, but it has one entire endcap devoted to this book. And a big professional sign, either done by the company who owned the chain of stores or (more likely) the publisher, asks something to the effect of "Can the police protect Amy and her sister long enough to find the killer?" Which is an odd thing to put in a Christian bookstore, but worse yet, "sister" is singular. That is, now you know Amy/Amanda/Kelly is connected to a sister, but when you open the book and find two sisters, now you know before you get to the end that one of them is dead.

Who dunnit? The reporter from the newspaper, also a legitimate son of this wealthy dead guy, but not at all mentioned in the will.

Everyone lives happily ever after. Except all the dead people. And the people in jail. And the people who don't know Jesus. Ok, I added that last part.

Poor story, poor writing, really bad job at evangelism and crummy marketing that ruins the story ahead of time. Personal opinion, not sure that Dee Henderson would sell too many books if she didn't get placement in Chrisitian bookstores. On the other hand, Lori and her mom both read it and I think would give more favorable reviews.
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