cover image Safe from Harm

Safe from Harm

Stephanie Jaye Evans. Berkley Prime Crime, $15 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-425-25346-5

Sugar Land, Tex., minister Walker “Bear” Wells plays the role of a man of God much more than that of a detective, in Evans’s emotionally charged sequel to 2012’s Faithful unto Death. In the first chapter, Bear comes home to find his 15-year-old daughter, Jo, in her bedroom, cradling the body of troubled high school classmate Phoebe Pickersley, an apparent overdose victim. Jo refuses to accept that Phoebe deliberately killed herself with drugs. The bulk of the book traces the depressing arc of Phoebe’s life and her desperate search for connection, but nothing matches the intensity of the prologue, in which Phoebe lets herself into the Wells’s house shortly before her death, seeking a return to comforting childhood experiences. Bear’s common sense and devotion to family make him extremely appealing, but readers looking for structured investigation in their mysteries may feel let down. Agent: Janet Reid, FinePrint Literary Management. (Mar.)