When I stared editing FellowScript, Janet Sketchley was doing acquisitions and writing the fiction column. Over the years that we worked together, I knew she was writing a novel, so I was delighted last year to hear it was finally being published. I shamelessly asked her if I could review it for her and she said sure—but she wasn’t sure it was the type of book I usually read. She added, “I’m a timid reader, and if I hadn’t written it, I’d hesitate to pick it up.”
I was intrigued. I read the occasional suspense novel, so I looked forward to getting Heaven’s Prey. My husband did a double-take when I told him what the book was about, but once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. Janet tackles a truly tough topic with the grace and poise I expected from her after reading her fiction column for so many years.
After her niece’s brutal kidnapping and murder, Ruth Warner finds peace and healing by praying for Harry Silver, a race-car-driver turned serial rapist who recently escaped from prison. Her prayers, however, stir up tension not only with her unbelieving husband but also with members of her local prayer group. She’s on her way home from a weekly prayer meeting when she runs into Silver himself. Now, all her faith is put to the test as Harry kidnaps her and plans to make her his last victim…
As I started the novel, I wondered how earth Ruth would escape from Harry. Janet does an excellent job of writing him as a dark, scary sociopath. As the novel progresses, however, Janet slowly takes the reader into Harry’s head. We learn about his porn addiction, his racing career, his childhood. While none of this excuses Harry’s crimes, it makes him human rather than monster.
I appreciated the fact that, even when Janet was writing about Harry’s crimes, she never made it graphic. We are given enough detail to know what happened but not so much that the crime is sensationalized. Yet these scenes never felt like the author was intruding by withholding information. Ruth talks about reading crime reports, about the horror she experienced in learning about Harry’s crimes, and her fear and disgust towards him gives the reader a bigger picture of Harry. At the same time, Ruth’s faith allows her to see Harry in another light.
To get a taste of the story, you can check out the Heaven’s Prey Blog Chase. At each stop in the chase, you’ll get a short “prequel” of the novel, some insight into what happened before Ruth encounters Harry. You can also drop by Janet’s website to read interview with the characters and with Janet.
Janet Sketchley is a long-time member of Inscribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship. She is passionate about fiction, but also has a nonfiction story in the award-winning anthology A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. She calls herself “a Christian growing in faith, trying to balance relationships and responsibilities.”
Sounds like a powerful book. Love how Christian fiction is charting new ground!
Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
Mel from Essential Thing Devotions
Thanks for dropping by! I also love the way that Christian fiction is growing as a genre. Janet’s book definitely sets a high standard for Christian suspense! 🙂
wow that’s quite the plot! It’s been a while since I read a book, I miss it!
This looks like a great and interesting read. I love how you always have the best books and authors. 🙂
I read a TON and I’m part of several writer’s groups, so I get to know other writers. 🙂 I love sharing about great books and authors, so I’m glad you appreciate hearing about them! 🙂
Sounds like an exciting read. I’ve been looking for a new book to add to my library, I’ll have to look for this one.
Do check it out! You can also ask your library to buy a copy too – most libraries take requests and then other people get the chance to check it out too. 🙂 Let me know what you think if you pick it up. 🙂
What a great sound booking!! I love that there is a religious struggle going on in the marriage as it is something I deal with it. My next too read boo.
Jenn – yes, I think the spiritual mismatched theme is one that many spouses can relate to. I also appreciated how Janet handled that… Tony felt as real in his doubts and fears as Ruth did in her faith. And I liked the fact that Tony and Ruth clearly had a great marriage despite a few differences. 🙂
This sounds like a fantastic read – edge of the seat stuff but not too graphic! The story itself sounds really well thought out and un-put-downable!
April – definitely! I was worried for Ruth quite a bit and seriously could have read the book in one sitting if I didn’t have kids or classes demanding my attention!
Hmmm, this sounds like a very interesting book. I like to consider myself well read, but I still get nervous when reading stories about crimes against people ( sexual, mutilation etc) I have to say that this review makes the book sound very appealing though so I may just have to check it out 🙂
I think with Janet, you’re in safe hands. 🙂 The topic is dark but I found this book much easier than the last suspense novel I read (Steven James’ Singularity). I don’t think darkness needs to be dwelled on; it’s there and we need to be aware of it, but I appreciated how Janet handled it and I’d recommend her book.
Bonnie, thank you for such a detailed–and kind–review. I struggled with how much of the story’s “gory details” to include, and I’m glad the balance worked for you. Interesting point that the withholding of information can be as much author intrusion as some of the more flagrant additions of commentary.
I look forward to reading your novel when it’s ready.
Janet – well, I’m realizing how hard it is to write a novel… mine is coming slowly! 🙂 Thanks again for the chance to read your book. Any sequels coming? 🙂
It’s hard, all right, but you can do it! And yes, there’s another book in the Redemption’s Edge series coming out this November. It’s called Secrets and Lies, and I’m working on revisions now. I don’t think it will be as intense as Heaven’s Prey, but it’s still suspense and redemption.
If I survive writing a historical novel, I think I’ll go back to writing fantasy or contemporary! Or maybe once I get it written, it’ll be easier to write others in the same era… 🙂 Anyway, excited to hear there’s a sequel! Good luck with revisions – those can be just as hard as writing! 🙂