Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: The Root of All Evil

Book Cover: The Root of All Evil by Ellery Adams and Elizabeth Lockard The Root of All Evil by Ellery Adams and Elizabeth Lockard
Published date by Beyond the Page Publishing
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Cooper Lee has never been happier. She has terrific friends at Bible study, a great boyfriend in Nathan, and best of all, a new niece or nephew on the way. But storm clouds are gathering when a string of church robberies comes to Hope Street and an art teacher is found dead in what appears to be a robbery gone wrong. With Halloween approaching, Cooper’s beginning to think there are far more tricks than treats coming her way.

No sooner do she and her friends step in to help the police unearth a killer than they discover a con artist among their flock. Lost in a morass of confusing clues—and even more confusing signals from Nathan—Cooper’s not sure which way to turn. With the stakes so high, she sends up a prayer for some divine guidance, because Cooper knows that sometimes it takes the help of a higher power to bring down the lowest form of evildoer.

My Thoughts

Someone is breaking into churches in Richmond and stealing AV equipment and money. Cooper Lee and the members of her Bible study group are hoping that Hope Street Church doesn't become one of the victims. But something worse happens—one of the teachers at Hope Street Christian Academy is found murdered in the pastor's study.

With their usual enthusiasm, Cooper and friends jump in to interview the teacher's friends and even fellow teachers, hoping to help the police determine who killed the art teacher. Other things are happening in Cooper's life as well. Her sister has been confined to bed rest for the last two months of her pregnancy and needs cheering up. Nathan, her boyfriend, seems perfectly content with the casual dating that has been going on for a year, while Cooper is looking for a permanent relationship and marriage. A new member of the Bible study group turns out to be a con artist and Cooper is torn whether to expose her to the others or not. And, to top it all off, some equipment and supplies have been stolen from her work and she has to find out if the thief is one of her employees.

I was particularly interested in this book when I saw that it was an addition to a series that I read a while ago. I read all three books of Jennifer Stanley's Hope Street Church mysteries in November and December 2010. I posted this observation in an online forum:

I'm currently reading the 3rd book in Jennifer Stanley's Hope Street Church Mysteries, The Way of the Guilty. I almost quit in the middle of #1—it was awkwardly written with stilted dialog. But the plot was good and the author was developing the characters well enough, so I stayed with it. #2 was much better and I'm just flying along in #3. (I've read 170 pages since I started it at lunchtime yesterday!)

I don't know much about the publishing industry. It's a shame that the author wasn't sent back to "fix" the first book after she landed the contract for all three. She's obviously improved and future books—in this series or not—are likely to be extremely well written. But the first one here can ruin the entire series for an unsuspecting reader.

Well, it looks like the author received similar feedback from others. She has released the first three books with new titles (and under the author name of Ellery Adams rather than Jennnifer Stanley) and updated and improved the text. And now there's this new volume in the series. I hope there will be more.


Note that I received a free copy of The Root of All Evil from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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