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THE HEAVENS RISE
by Christopher Rice
Gallery, October 2013
336 pages
$26.00
ISBN: 1476716080


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It's post-Katrina New Orleans and Ben Broyard is a newspaper reporter. He is working for the woman who gave him focus after one of his best friends (and her parents) disappeared into the bayou his senior year in high school. Niquette Delongpre was Ben's best friend. Her boyfriend, Anthem Landry, was also Ben's friend. They kept each other together.

Marshall Ferriot wanted Niquette, wanted her badly. He convinced another girl to lie and say that Anthem had cheated on Niquette with her. Niquette broke up with Anthem. She went out with Marshall twice. The second time convinced her that Marshall did not have her best interests at heart. In the meantime, Ben convinces the lying girl to tell the truth - and Niquette takes Anthem back. At a local country club "do," Marshall attempts to throw himself out a plate glass window, and winds up the next thing to brain dead. Niquette and her parents disappear into the bayou, presumably drowned after their car goes off the road.

Years later, Ben realizes that Marshall is no longer comatose. Somehow, he is paying back all the people he thinks have wronged him, have kept him from Niquette. Marshall is a very sick individual; his thought processes focus on cruelty and the biblical "eye for an eye" concept of judgement. As one might imagine, his enemies die awful deaths. Not always painful, but nonetheless awful.

Anthem has turned into a great and glorious lush, functional enough to drive a riverboat or a barge for a living, but a drunk. Ben still saves Anthem from himself, when that's possible. Anthem receives a "Come to Jesus" message, and quits drinking. Ben meets Niquette's father, and learns all about the monsters that have been created since even before that fateful night when Marshall pushed Niquette past the limit. If it

isn't already obvious, Marshall must be destroyed.

Rice knows how to tell a story. He builds his characters carefully, so the reader understands why they behave as they do. But at almost the very end of the book, someone does something so out of character that I lost all belief? The setting is part of the story in that it helps to shape mood and give atmosphere. Setting this story in Death Valley would SO not have worked. The bayous in and around N'Orleans, on the other hand, make the plot twist believable.

Stranger things have happened. There is a medical aspect to all of this; sharing would be a definite spoiler. Fans of Robin Cook will appreciate the twist.

P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, October 2013

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