In her suspense novel, Perfect Blessing, Viola Anderson shows how the apparent foundations of a life can be blown away in an instant.
That instant occurs for the novel’s main character, Katherine Steward, a comfortably situated housewife and mother, when she opens the door to two rain-soaked police officers late one night. The officers inform Katherine that her husband, Randall, was killed in a fiery car crash and that his body has been burned beyond recognition.
As Katherine starts to deal with her grief and make arrangements for Randall’s funeral, she learns that Randall had recently arranged for his body to be cremated. She also learns that Randall has wiped out their joint bank accounts, allowed his life insurance to lapse and their mortgage payments to become seriously overdue. Of course, Katherine begins to sense a rotten underpinning to this scenario, and she presses the police to open an investigation.
It is not until her house is burglarized, however, that an investigator, Mark Lancer, takes on the case. Mark and Katherine start putting the missing pieces together, and the arc and denouement of the novel follow their discoveries and the action prompted by those discoveries.
While Perfect Blessing is carefully plotted, the author draws her characters with such minimalist strokes that readers may find it difficult to relate to them. Readers know, for instance, that Katherine found her husband controlling, but not why she chose to stay with him. Katherine’s friend, Colleen, is little more than a cog to further the plot, and Mark, the detective, fails to rise above the stereotypical romantic interest.
As it stands, Perfect Blessing might appeal to those suspense fans who read solely for plot, but the novel would need a thoughtful revision focusing on enriching its character development in order to garner a larger audience.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.