Thursday, August 29, 2019

Review: FATAL STRIKE by DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills's newest novel, Fatal Strike (Tyndale House Publishers), hit shelves next week! I reviewed it for Lone Star Literary Life. "As is Mills's trademark, Fatal Strike is clean, contemporary, suspenseful crime fiction with compelling characters and relevant, timely themes."

DiAnn Mills
Fatal Strike
Tyndale House Publishers
Hardcover (also available as an e-book), 978-1-4964-2709-0, 400 pgs., $24.99
September 3, 2019

Three bodies have been discovered in Galveston in three days, all apparently murdered by an injection of rattlesnake venom to the heart. The dead are a police officer, a prosecuting attorney, and a judge. The suspects are members of Venenos, a Mexican drug- and human-trafficking gang whose rallying cry is “Reconquista”—reclaiming Texas for Mexico. FBI Special Agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert, who’ve not worked together previously, are paired to investigate the deaths. As the investigation progresses, mysterious undercurrents become an undertow, and politics and family secrets muddy the waters so that it’s not clear who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, and whom the agents can trust.

Fatal Strike is the latest novel of Christian suspense and romance from award-winning, best-selling Texas author DiAnn Mills. As is her trademark, Fatal Strike is clean, contemporary, suspenseful crime fiction with compelling characters and relevant, timely themes.

Mills is skilled at creating a pervasive sense of menace. Fatal Strike bolts out of the starting gate on page one with a hostage situation, and the action continues at a quick, steady pace with plenty of eyebrow-raising plot twists that keep the pages turning. You know you’re in for a treat when what you (mistakenly) think has to be the biggest plot twist happens at the halfway point. Mills deftly plants clues throughout the story, and you won’t be able to identify the red herrings until it’s too late.

Agents Riesel and Colbert, partners forced together by circumstance, are sympathetic and flawed, possessing strong, distinct personalities and backstories that provide motivation and rich emotional resonance. It’s a pleasure to follow the healthy negotiation of their working relationship as they learn to like each other, followed by the gradual development of romantic attraction.

Mills’s cast is diverse, providing a layered sense of community. The local priest, Father Gabriel, is “either a candidate for pope or looking for martyrdom,” the chief of police seems suspiciously unhelpful, and mothers are just trying to protect their children. Mills’s dialogue is an intriguing, careful dance between characters, drawing on a satisfying and sophisticated psychology.

This newest novel stands out for its nuanced tension between the church and its sacred responsibilities and the state and its law enforcement responsibilities, and the organic manner in which faith is incorporated. Fatal Strike should have broad appeal across multiple genres and audiences.

Originally published by Lone Star Literary Life.

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