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Sinners and Saints    by Eileen Dreyer order for
Sinners and Saints
by Eileen Dreyer
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

When Chastity Byrnes makes the decision to testify against her father, exposing him as a child molester, it tears her family apart. One sister commits suicide while Chastity's younger sister Faith and her mother turn their backs on her. She feels that therapy, drugs, and her work as a forensic nurse keep her sane. But ten years later, one phone call from a brother-in-law she didn't know she had, shatters any illusions that she'd been healing. Desperate to find his missing wife (Faith), Dr. Max Stanton convinces Chastity that she's the only person who can help.

Chastity reluctantly agrees to fly to New Orleans, and begins her own search. With the help of an old friend, and a laconic taxi driver named James, Chastity starts combing the streets for clues. Soon, an ugly tangle of surprises begins to unravel as she digs deeper into her sister's involvement with various fertility clinics. That's when the bodies start turning up - of women who look suspiciously like Faith, and had at one time or another had contact with the missing woman. All the while, a hurricane is threatening the city and Chastity is strongly tempted to jump on the first plane home to St. Louis. But she puts her fears aside to help Max and, most of all, to find her sister Faith.

Eileen Dreyer has a gift for creating appealing and complicated characters. Chastity is a determined woman who still hasn't come to terms with childhood fears instilled by a pedophile father. James has secrets and scars of his own. Dreyer's style, pacing and ability to paint an accurate portrait of the city that never sleeps is spot on. Unfortunately, the plot falls very short. Chastity spends a lot of time asking the same people the same questions, following an endless trail of often pointless red herrings. Once she discovers the villain's identity, it's no big surprise. In the end, his revelations and motivations fall flat. But, despite this disappointing turn, Sinners and Saints offers enough entertainment to keep readers turning the pages.

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