"You're as sick as your secrets" defines Mary DeMuth's final book of the Defiance Texas Trilogy, Life in Defiance.
Ouisse (Louise) Pepper, wife to Preacher Hap and mother to Jed and Sissy, buries childhood secrets and continues to hide secrets during her marriage. She cannot air the dirty laundry of domestic violence, alcoholism, and benign neglect of her children to the little town of Defiance. What would the congregation do with the truth of severe beatings, chokings, and humiliations dispensed by the hand of her husband? What would the tongue waggers do with the knowledge of her love affair with alcohol? She swallows her secrets and hides in the shadow of her preacher husband.
She holds another secret close to her chest: the identity of Daisy Emory's killer. The killer's identity unravels through cleverly contrived flashbacks and insertions into the story line. DeMuth dangles the killer's identity before her readers like a carcas in front of a hungry lion. The tantilizing disclosure of the killer's name fuels the reader's drive to reach the story's end.
DeMuth infuses the truth of God's grace and mercy as Emory Chase commits her life to Jesus. The same truth is played out for Ouisse but she is reticent to accept the offer. The seeds of redemption and faith grow slow but deep, just like the hollyhock seeds she secretly plants. Ouisse's neighbor Ethrea tells her, "A seed planted can't help but grow." The seeds of friendship eventually yield bumper crops, right along with the flowers.
Another component of the story is how one person influences another. Ouisse demeans herself page after page only to be reminded by Emory and Ethrea that she has worth. The irony of Emory's encouragement is she, too, felt worthless and of "no account" because of her past. Hixon came into her life and, through simple acts of kindness, pointed her to Christ. The ultimate sacrifice of Hixon's life portrayed Christ's love for her. Emory passed that love on to Ouisse; she "paid it forward."
The Defiance Texas Trilogy offers intrigue, crime, passion, and redeeming love. A great read and highly recommended.
I received a review copy of the book from the publisher.