Likeable characters and solid suspense: My review of False Pretenses by Kathy Herman

Publisher: David C. Cook (March 1, 2011)
False Pretenses is the first book in the Secrets of Roux River Bayou Series, and in part it continues the story of Vanessa and Ethan and their 4-yr-old son Carter, characters who are featured in Kathy Herman's Sophie Trace Trilogy. The family has moved to Louisiana, planning to renovate an inherited heritage house to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast. Shortly after their arrival, Carter claims he saw a man in the closet of one of the rooms. Although at first they believe that Carter is imagining what he saw, they soon start to wonder if he truly did see someone in the home. In the meantime, their landlord, Zoe Broussard, has started receiving a series of threatening notes to expose Zoe's secret past, one that could destroy her reputation and the future of her marriage. Zoe must make a choice of whether to face her past once and for all, while her very life, and those of others, is threatened in a very real manner.

Kathy Herman has written a fairly solid start to a promising new series, with likable characters and suspense that kept me turning the pages. She excels at making the reader truly care about the characters, even with their very human flaws, and I enjoyed revisiting the world of Vanessa and Ethan and being introduced to new characters as well. I also appreciated how she wove faith issues into the story, as she leads the characters through times of trials and learning to rely on God.

I did find some of her writing to be troublesome, however, in that she had the tendency to have characters experience introspection through repetitive questions, such as where they'd think "Hadn't she tried her best to..." or "Hadn't she always believed..." etc. In one instance I read such a phrase four times in two paragraphs, and  the constant use of such questions throughout the book distracted me from the story. I do not recall ever seeing this problem in Herman's past stories, and am a bit disappointed by it. Nevertheless, the plot has enjoyable twists and turns, and overall I would still recommend this novel to readers who have enjoyed Herman's previous novels.

I give this book a mild recommendation of 3 out of 5 stars. I do plan on reading the next book in the series as I've faithfully followed the characters from the Sophie Trace Trilogy and look forward to what will occur next in their lives.

An electronic galley of this book was provided by the publisher via netgalley for the purposes of this unbiased review.