A debut religious novel set in Appalachia mixes faith, family, and medical science.
In this tale, Justice presents an ambitious narrative. The story follows Angela, a live-in nurse from an unspecified big city who moves to a small Appalachian mountain town to care for two elderly women, Grace and Harriet Miles—Aunt Grace and Aunt Hattie, as they insist on being called. In taking care of Grace and Hattie, Angela slowly reconnects with nature, spirituality, and the simpler things in life. But she also stumbles on some darker aspects of the mountain’s history and existence. Just what happened to Maggie, Grace and Hattie’s sister? What will happen to Amelia Grace, a quiet victim of domestic abuse who helps around Grace’s farmhouse? What is Grady, Maggie’s husband, up to? This last question proves the most important to Justice’s book, driving the plot and central intrigue of the story. Grady, the main antagonist, is using a parcel of land on the mountain for a shady government project. As his work gets underway, he waits out Grace and Hattie, knowing he will inherit their farm and a considerable lot on the mountain. Angela (with some help from a new friend, Helen, a fellow nurse from town) decides to get to the bottom of it all while taking care of friends and family along the way. Justice accomplishes an impressive feat in weaving all these storylines together, though a few of them start fading away by the volume’s conclusion. Angela’s spiritual development, for example, more or less concludes halfway through the work. The novel would be improved by extending this thread so it runs in tandem with the suspense-driven story about Grady’s activity on the mountain. Justice’s prose is lively, especially when writing in dialect. The strongest dialogue comes out of Grace’s mouth: “They is lotsa’ other books that say lotsa nice things. But the Good Book is the only one that kills” its hero. While not necessarily true, it’s certainly authentic. This tale should please readers with an interest in both thrillers and religion.
A tightly woven mystery about rural and spiritual life that proves both heartwarming and gripping.