I have the great privilege of bringing you a book review today: Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl. This gorgeous paperback landed on my doorstep a little over a month ago, a Christian Fiction book about a woman U.S. Marshall who becomes the target of a local gang, unbeknownst to her. The book strongly advocates for respect for our police force, faith in God, and healing. It’s labeled Defenders of Justice 01, so I’m assuming this is the first of a series that is in the works.
First off, the good stuff: I love a strong female protagonist, and Mercy Brennan fits the bill. She’s tough (but can be squishy on the inside when you’re privy to her thoughts), she’s made her own life after coming out of a tough past, and she doesn’t fall apart at the seams when things get tough. The back cover blurb sounds promising and action-packed, “It isn’t until a freak ice storm strands them [Mercy and her fellow officers] at a remote location… that the full severity of the situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy to put them in great danger…” Also, I liked that there were hints of Christian themes without the pushiness and preachiness that sometimes come with this genre of writing. The cover is gorgeous with blue tones, snowflakes, and a bold yellow spine.
Now moving into what I didn’t like so well: the writing is not as strong as I would have liked. There were many places in the book where I stopped reading and said aloud, “What?!” If it were out of shock at the plot twist, this would be acceptable, but as a reaction to character development or the general style of the prose, not so much.
There are places where I felt like either Mehl was explaining facts to herself as a writer, so she would remember them, or she was talking down to her audience instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt that they some general truths about police, criminals, and human relationships. On that note, the criminals are overly criminal –terrible people who are one-dimensional thugs –and the police are a little too saintly. For me, this doesn’t mirror real life (not every cop is a saint, and not every criminal is evil), and that extreme dynamic tends to pull me out of a story.
Some of the dialogue feels natural, but other parts are stilted and were a struggle for me to get through. There are places where the author relied on a conversation to reveal a lot of backstory, even though the conversation didn’t seem like one that those characters would necessarily have with one another. There are also bits of prose that don’t seem to fit with the overall tone of the surrounding text. For example, “One false move… and the cartel would order hits as easily as Mark ordered fries at McDonalds” (Mehl, 60). This sounds like the punchline of a joke, but it’s in the middle of a serious section of text dealing with the main character, Mercy, potentially being on the cartel’s hit list, or possibly being a dirty cop. In the context, it seems like an odd choice.
Lastly, I assumed that there would be a strong environmental theme to the book due to the title, Fatal Frost, but the big ice storm doesn’t hit until right before page 100 –awfully far into the book for something that ties into the title. One of the reasons I picked this book was for the wintery atmosphere that I assumed would seep through the pages and wrap me in an icy world where I could hold my breath in suspense as I waited for the plot twists. Sadly, that’s not quite what I got out of it.
Honestly, if I bought this book on my own, I wouldn’t have made it past the first 50 pages (which is the space I give every book in which to hook me as a reader), but because I received it for a review, I felt like I had to finish it. I tried hard to be interested, and I kept at it for a full month, putting it down whenever I felt disappointed in it. Finally, I made it to the one-month mark, but I was only on page 100. I wanted to want to finish it, nevertheless, this is as far as I’m ever going to get. I couldn’t force myself to finish it in order to review the whole thing, and for the sake of both you, dear reader, and the author who wanted a review written for her book, I am greatly sorry. This book isn’t for me. That’s not to say that it’s not for someone; I personally didn’t like it.
This is the last book review I will be writing for a while. While I have been blessed by being able to review both “regular” books and homeschooling curriculum on my blog, I’m not going to be able to continue either for some time. I hate to leave on a negative note, but I hope you enjoyed it all the same. I’m not sure what route my blog will take after this, but I’ll have another post up next week about life as it is now, my particular challenges as a mother/student/wife/child of God, and where I think I might be headed (you never know when God has something up His sleeve, eh?). Thank you for reading, as always, and we’ll talk soon.
I was given a copy of Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl in exchange for an honest review. All opinions contained within this blog post are my own, and I’m in no way required to give a positive review. If you are interested in becoming a book blogger for Bethany House, you can visit their book blogger page here.