Ivy Griffith is a murderer. At least, she might as well be since she made a pact with Pete Barton and the others to cover it all up. Now, after ten years of numbing her guilt with drugs, she's finally coming clean, and home, to the little town of Jacob's Ear, Colorado. Hoping to find the courage to reveal the truth, practical matters must be dealt with first. Since she'll certainly be thrown in jail, she must secure a guardian for her seven-year-old son, Montana, whom her parents didn't even know existed. But at her ten-year high school reunion, an ugly twist of events pays homage to the past, and further entangles Ivy in a sick web of deceit. Can she ever shake the haunting darkness that plagues her and leave the horrors of the past buried, perhaps right alongside Joe Hadley's body, never to reemerge?
Where do you go when there's nowhere else to go?
But, in Kathy Herman's Ever Present Danger, Ivy Griffith has spent the past ten years running away from home. When her friends killed a fellow student, Ivy was high on drugs and witnessed it. She made a pact with her three friends to say nothing. Guilt has driven her away from her family and into drugs, alcohol, and prostitution. Only an elderly Christian friend, Lucia Ramirez, and Ivy's seven-year-old son, Montana, have rescued her from the drugs. Lu has talked Ivy into confessing her cover-up of the murder.
Now Montana needs a place to live and Lu needs a place to die. And there's nowhere to go but home.
When Ivy gets home, everything has changed. She and, even worse, Montana get the cold shoulder from her father. Her parents have broken up the ranch and formed a Christian camp. What hasn't changed is Ivy's old boyfriend, Pete Barton, and his friends who murdered Joe Hadley. Still womanizing and doing drugs, Pete leads the other two in pressuring her to keep her promise of silence. He also leads them in making fun of their wimpy former drug supplier, Bill Ziwicki.
At the Christian camp, Brandon Jones thinks his job as director of the camp and his bride, Kelsey, make life perfect. Especially when you throw in a chance to go whitewater rafting with his new friend, Buzz Easton. If only Kelsey and Pete's boss, Jake, would let him have a good time with Buzz and recognize how important it is to win his friendship in order to win him to Jesus. Pete recognizes that Buzz is crude, but he doesn't understand Jake's veiled warnings about the whitewater rafter. But when Buzz's actions lead Pete to cover up for him, Pete has to make some decisions.
For Ivy, the decisions come after Lu dies and Pete and his buddies are murdered during their ten-year class reunion. Suddenly Bill seems to be the only one Ivy can turn to since she refuses to turn to God. When her friends' killer threatens her, Bill alone offers help, but is he enough to keep her from a dead boy's avenger?
Kathy Herman does a masterful job in both plots of exposing the dangers of compromising your values. While the subplot shows how easily compromise can begin, the main plot communicates what the end of compromise can be. The message comes through without her preaching it or weakening the high suspense of her story.
In a few places the conversation is stilted, but not enough to detract from the story. Also, Herman comes across as light on repentance in a scene between Jake and Brandon. One of the characters says to the other weeping character, "What you did isn't unforgivable. Take that sin to the cross, leave it there, and stop carrying the guilt" (p. 300). This response sounds like flippant Christianese. Reactions like these leave non-Christians and often other Christians feeling as though the people talking do not comprehend the seriousness of the sin and the devastation sin reeks in our lives. Though Herman does not mean it that way, it equates to someone in the world saying, "It's done, so get over it." The truth may be in what the character says, but the emotional understanding of the terribleness of sin is lacking.
In spite of that, suspense fans will enjoy the masterful theme running through the subplot and primary plot in Ever Present Danger. Debbie W. Wilson, Christian Book Previews.com
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