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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Wells, Melanie: When the Day of Evil Comes

  Amazon  

4.5 stars

Don't let the creepy bald guy on the cover of Melanie Wells's When the Day of Evil Comes Scare You. Scratch that: he's a scary guy. But don't let that stop you from reading this first book in Wells's series of religious thrillers. (The third in the series was published in 2008.) You won't be sorry.

Dylan Foster is a psychology professor at Southern Methodist University--thirty-three, unmarried, Catholic; she's smart and likable, an interesting lecturer, popular with students. But one day, inexplicably, some seriously strange things begin to happen to her, starting when she meets the creepy guy from the book's cover at a faculty picnic in Austin. Pasty and hairless and sickly looking, the man--he introduces himself as Peter Terry--is unsettling. The kind of guy your reptilian brain recognizes as dangerous. You cross the street when you see him coming. You keep your children close. But this meeting is just the first in a parade of strange things that happen to Dylan and that threaten to destroy her comfortable life: her mother's one-of-a-kind wedding ring, buried with her two years earlier, turns up in a gift box in Dylan's truck; a delusional colleague and a former patient start denouncing her; fat, late-summer flies start plaguing her, an endless succession of them alighting on her dishes and sheets. In the end, Dylan is forced to try to clear her name by confronting evil--in its human incarnation certainly, and perhaps in demonic form as well.

There is much to commend this book. Dylan is a great character. The plot is gripping. The writing style is interesting. I do have a few complaints. This being a religious thriller, there is naturally quite a lot of reference to things religious--prayers and Biblical passages and so on. But sometimes these references don't seem to fit naturally into the narrative, as if they were shoehorned in. Second, in the second chapter Dylan talks to some colleagues about the possibility that her problems are the result of demonic activity. I wish this hadn't been spelled out so clearly, or at least so early. It takes some of the chill out of the creepy things Dylan has been experiencing. Finally, some of the book's mysteries are cleared up at the end of this volume, but a lot is left up in the air. If we conceive of the book as part of a larger whole in which our questions will be answered, then this isn't problematic. Taken on its own, however, it leaves us scratching our heads a bit.

But the above complaints are minor. I enjoyed this book very much and am eager to read more in the series.

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