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THE COVENANT by Jeff Crook: Book Review

A former police detective/former Coast Guard officer/former heroin addict, currently a virtually homeless photographer blessed and/or cursed with the ability to see ghosts, Jackie Lyons has more parts than a jigsaw puzzle.  Reduced to living in a lower-than-low budget motel and eating ramen noodles or nothing at all, she’s surprised by a call from a woman she met briefly a year earlier and hasn’t heard from since.

Jenny Loftin has called to say that the pastor of her church needs photos taken of an old house that he plans to turn into the parsonage of his new church.  Arriving at Stirling Estates, Jackie is waiting to meet Deacon Falgoust when she sees a man approaching her, his arms waving, his steps uncoordinated.  Suddenly he stumbles over a cliff into a body of water, and Jackie dives in after him.  His body is cold when Jackie pulls him out of the lake; in fact, Sam Loftin had already been for dead several hours when Jackie “saw” him on the cliff and then fall in the water.

Jackie has had visions all her life of people both recently dead and long deceased.  She no longer tries to explain this to others, and her hesitant description of what she saw, trying to avoid saying she saw the ghost of Sam Loftin, lands her in jail overnight.  In the morning she’s released and finds out that Sam’s death quickly has been ruled a suicide, allegedly due to his despair over the death of his young daughter five years earlier.

Deacon Falgoust is certain that Jackie will be able to help Jenny in her search for answers about her husband’s death.  To help them both, he suggests that Jackie move in with Jenny and her family in the Estates and pay a small amount of rent; it turns out that Sam has left a lot of unpaid bills, surprising in view of their upscale lifestyle and the fact that he never complained about business problems.  Nevertheless, Jenny is fearful of losing her home and seemingly wants more from Jackie, whom she suspects of having special powers, than Jackie is willing to give.

The title, The Covenant, refers to the rules, regulations, and restrictions that homeowners in Stirling Estates must agree to when they purchase their houses.  The restrictions are many and are clearly meant to tightly control who buys into the development and how they live.  But, as Deacon Falgoust tells Jackie, there are ways around anything, if the Lord is on your side.

Jackie Lyons is beset by demons, many of which are unexplained in this second novel of the series; that leads me to hope for an early third entry in the series.  Did she quit or was she fired from the Memphis Police Department?  Who was her husband and why did they divorce?  Why did she turn to heroin and how was she able to kick the habit?

The Covenant is a great read with a fascinating heroine and a gripping plot.  Its ending will have you wondering how you missed all the clues that led up to it…I certainly did.

You can read more about Jeff Crook at various sites on the web.

Checking out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.