Friday, May 23, 2014

Book Review: Billy Coffey's "The Devil Walks in Mattingly"

The Devil Walks in Mattingly, Billy Coffey's 4th book, extends his string of getting better with each new novel. Like his previous works--Snow Day, Paper Angels, When Mockingbirds Sing--The Devil Walks in Mattingly is set in the fictional town of Mattingly, Virginia. 

The setting is same as from novel to novel, and the Mattingly books do features same recurring characters.  In this story, Jake Barnett is the town sheriff, in addition to being husband to Kate and father to Zach. Jake lives under the shadow of his harsh, disapproving father, Justus. Kate briefly befriends teenager Lucy Seekins, who in turn connects with a hermit named Taylor Hathcock.

As the title suggests, The Devil Walks in Mattingly is darker than Coffey's previous novels. Twenty years before the events in the novel, a teenager's death affects the lives of Jake and Kate, and in the present-time setting. they are still haunted by it. Then a murder occurs, disrupting the town's peaceful existence, and the investigation yields an uncovering of old secrets that two people had hoped would remain buried.

Although published by Christian publisher Thomas Nelson and sold in Christian outlets, The Devil Walks in Mattingly does not preach an overtly Christian message. By the story's end, the reader experiences a demonstration of grace, forgiveness, humility and the freedom that comes with shedding of shackles we create when we choose to lie, to keep secrets, and to rationalize. That said, you don't come away from this story feeling you have been preached to or lectured. "The Devil Walks in Mattingly" is a genuinely inspirational and refreshing story. 

I give "The Devil Walks in Mattingly" a big thumbs-up. My favorite quote: "To the heirs of grace, grace is free. But what does grace cost the giver?"

This book is ideal for anyone interested in the following topics:

Grace/forgiveness
Our efforts to make things right when we screw up
The damage done by unhealthy relationships with our fathers
The healing that begins when secrets are exposed

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of "The Devil Walks in Mattingly" in exchange for an honest review.