In this debut novel, Ng tells the story of a group of Canadians connected by a violent incident and their Christian faith.
A murder in the small town of Oshawa, Ontario, goes unsolved for 15 years, but it has unexpected effects on several people’s lives. The victim is a Mafia hit man named Diego Baroffio, originally of New York City, who ends up shot to death after a sketchy deal goes awry in an Oshawa antique furniture store. Detective Keith Kendelhart is a sharp local cop on the case who became a devout Christian after being saved from a near-stabbing in a restaurant. Other characters include Roy Benton, Baroffio’s childhood friend who works at a local department store; and Kiel and Margaret Mendel, two devout Christians involved in the evangelistic efforts of their church. Most central of all is the large Evans family, who owned the furniture store in which Baroffio was killed. Siblings Scott and Kimberly witness the murder, but their sister Miranda is drawn furthest into its aftereffects as she becomes locked in a dynastic struggle for the family’s wealth. Fate comes for sinners and believers alike, but as the mystery unfolds, Ng shows that the way people live their lives has great implications for the way that they meet their deaths. The plot is ambitious in its scope, exploring various subcultures, from that of organized crime to evangelizing Christians. The author uses an omniscient, third-person perspective that isn’t afraid to tip readers off with overt foreshadowing, but odd syntax and grammatical errors often rob the story of its tension: “There were, however, still crimes committed. One, in particular, will soon to meet Margaret Mendel face to face.” The plot is also too convoluted and leisurely for the mystery at the its center to ever feel very urgent—or even terribly mysterious, as the reader witnesses Baroffio’s murder. Much of the rest of the book is made up of digressions from the mystery, often involving Christian themes—but when all the threads finally tie together, they fail to add up to anything satisfying.
A slow-paced, awkwardly written Christian crime novel.