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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Life in Defiance by Mary E DeMuth

Ousie Pepper is a woman of secrets. She keeps the violence of her husband-the Reverend Hapland Pepper of Defiance, Texas-toward her a secret. She keeps his violence toward her two children, Jed and Sissy, a secret. She keeps her drinking habit a secret. And worst of all, she knows who killed Daisy Chance, her son's best friend, yet she is keeping it a secret. She believes that her husband's violence is her fault, and therefore begins to read books on the subject of being a Godly wife. But as her future becomes more and more uncertain because of Hap's unpredictable nature and the fact that a killer is on the loose, Ousie soon finds that the only One she can trust is God, but she's not sure if she's ready to face her own sins yet...
There were many mistakes I was afraid Mary E DeMuth would make in this last installment of the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, yet she made none of them. Deeply imperfect characters, superb plot development, and an interesting end make for another five star read.
If anything is Mary' strength as a writer, it is her ability and will to develop deeply imperfect characters with personalities. Ousie is not the perfect victim she could have been; this is evident through her drinking problem. Hapland is not the monster he could have been, but instead is a mentally unstable character. Emory is not the perfect, reformed character she could have been. Daisy's killer is not the monster he could have been. Throughout this series, Mary has showed the people of Defiance are very broken and unclean, and she brings this all together at the end of Life in Defiance. As long as Mary is an author, she never needs to lose this skill for creating such characters. Many other authors need to learn from her how to develop characters.
My number one concern for this book's plot was a miraculous resurrection of Daisy through a misunderstanding of the corpse, yet Mary did not do this. The return of Daisy's killer was a concern to me, yet he was not unbearable. By delving into Ousie's past, the reader discovers how she got herself into the mess with Hap and why she kept herself there. Mary has an intangible quality of her descriptions that no other author can grasp. Her creative word adjectives and verbs, combined with her out-of-context use of the word 'defiance' make for an interesting read. Where there could have been cheesy showdowns between Ousie and Hap or Ousie and Daisy's killer, there were none. While there are no key character deaths at the end, Mary delivered a series end that deals with imperfection and forgiveness.
The Defiance Texas Trilogy has been one of the more enjoyable series I have read, and it is one of the few Elite Series. Mary has proven herself early on to be one of the best authors on the market, and this should continue, as long as she keeps her emotions out of the way of originality. As long as she does the bare minimum of developing her broken characters, her books will always be worth reading.
5 stars

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