Publication Date: June 3, 2013
In Safe as Churches by Cathy Vasas-Brown, Paige Rowan has secrets. One of her secrets is that she once worked as a phone sex operator going by the pseudonym of Opal. One of her more ardent callers formed an attraction and is willing to woo Paige one dead friend at a time. Dead bodies that are appetizers to the ultimate main course of Paige herself.
The author, Cathy Vasas-Brown, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
I will be honest with you, readers, when I researched this novel on Amazon the description left me a little apathetic. This would be perhaps a two-star novel and really, from the information I had, could have reached that most unfamiliar of stars in the Tammy lexicon — one. Had I known then what I know now, I would have grabbed Safe as Churches up and started reading at once.
What a reader will like about Safe as Churches is the accessibility of the work. The subject matter could have gone really dark and melodramatic, but Paige is a pragmatic character. Bad stuff has happened to her. She has every reason to be balled up in a corner crying constantly. We meet Paige at a point where her life is looking up. She lives in a nice town, has a job and is building a relationship with a man she loves. They’re not rushing anything but why use words when their actions speak so loudly? Paige also has other healthy relationships, which for a character who has been as battered by life is rare so the reader knows if she gets through this, she’ll be okay. She is likable, she is strong, and she is for the most part emotionally healthy and how can you not cheer for someone so strong?
Vasas-Brown also brings us an outstanding baddie. This is a guy on a mission who truly loves what he’s doing but also has a purpose as outlandishly crazy as it might be. The baddie is creepy, unpredictable and chilling as he tracks people with whom the reader has built a relationship and doesn’t want to die. I’m going to call this one; the True Gentleman goes in my pantheon of favorite baddies next to John Sandford’s Michael Bekker from Eyes of Prey and Silent Prey (Lucas Davenport, No 4). Narcissistic, psychotic, bone-chillingly evil — the True Gentleman is all of that and more. You don’t want him to get away but almost do because he can only get more interesting and evil and the sort of person that you hope doesn’t exist in daily life.
My one true beef with this novel has less to do with the work of Vasas-Brown and more a culmination of authors. Newsflash folks, not all fat chicks are obsessed with food. Sometimes it’s our eating habits, sometimes it’s medical and, yes, sometimes it’s filling a void with food. That all authors, television writers, etc. … seem to go the “I am cutting back, I only ate my body weight today” riot kills me as a fat chick. Not only was she obsessed with food but everyone around her was repulsed by her. The sort of fat chick that you can’t help but stare at. Really? Perhaps it’s that I live in the former fattest city in Canada which is next to the former fattest city in the United States, but in my world at least, half the folks are obese. You may ask how overriding this was in the novel that I would bring it up, but it came up every time the character was mentioned on and off and is talked about more than seen. Authors out there, cut a fat chick a break. We have jobs, we have families and we’re awesome.
Safe as Churches is tightly plotted and written with a professional hand. The work sings of professional editing though Vasas-Brown was a teacher in her professional life so she may well have the skill to self-proof. The story is ever moving and is compellingly alive. Vasas-Brown builds the tension to a stunning climax. If you like thrillers, pick this one up today.
Cathy Vasas-Brown is the author of several novels. Check out the book review of The Monitor on this site.
Read an excerpt and buy Safe as Churches by Cathy Vasas-Brown on