Score: 88/100 (8.8 out of 10)
Sinful Duty is a steamy, erotic murder mystery by Philip Burbank Pallette. It stars “stud priest” Grant Stevenson, smoking hot female cop Stefanie Craig, and police sergeant Ricky Kincaid.
After a sexy, steamy encounter, Grant discovers that one of his recent bed mates, Karen Lucas, has been found dead—her body dumped in his office. Among the chief suspects of this murder are Officer Alex Rogers, Karen's husband (Lance Lucas), and Grant himself.
This is one of those books that starts one way and winds up a completely different way. It's a classic whodunnit with a sexy twist.
Having read our share of mystery/detective novels (and books about real-life crime cases), this one probably lies somewhere in the middle. It was probably one of the more difficult cases for us to figure out. Per the norm with these books, there are a lot of sketchy, despicable characters in here who could be involved in the murder(s).
If you enjoy murder mysteries, you might really enjoy this!
With that said, there are things about this book that really troubled us. We had a similar feeling to some of the works of another author about a year ago. It's ok to be edgy. It's ok to write about disturbing things, but it needs to have a point. There needs to be a really, really, really good reason for it to be in there. It can't just be shock & awe for the sake of shock & awe, it needs to have a major place in the narrative and the ability to justify its existence in the story. Among these disturbing things are incest (between a father and daughter), sexual abuse and pedophilia (by a priest), and very insensitive language designated for certain groups of people. It kept having us thinking: is this all really necessary? Like, does it help or hinder the story? Does it help or hinder the character building?
You could argue that the fact that Gary scores a hit on his abuser is satisfying and sets him up to be a bad@$$. Ok. But did it have to go down that way? Did it have to paint Christian leaders as corrupt and lecherous? Did it have to involve a child/children? Did these encounters have to be described in such detail?
Like, when you read that this is a “steamy” romance book, you think you know what you're signing up for. Sexual encounters between consenting adults is fine. It might even be exciting. This is one of the bestselling genres on the planet for a reason.
Yes, some of the sexual encounters between consenting adults are hot and steamy. There are vivid, visceral descriptions of c**ks and stuff. But when it comes to kids being sexually exploited and assaulted, you need to describe these types of things with far more tact. To a lesser extent, the same can be said about derogatory terms for certain people. These are words that shouldn't just be sprinkled in like salt and pepper. They hold weight.
And, furthermore, these things really aren't that big a part of this story. They are sorta a part of Grant being Grant, such as when he learns Aikido to defend himself, but again... did it have to be a sexual encounter with an adult (as a child) that inspired it?
There is so much sex in this book. It almost becomes hilarious and over-the-top. Everyone and everything needs to reach its climax, even the church service “climaxed” (pg. 31)!
The actual murder-mystery is fascinating and could stand on its own.
Going back to Grant, we are repeatedly told that he has muscular sclerosis (MS), something we're personally familiar with. It is very interesting to see it represented in fiction, but, as with the other things we mentioned, it seems more like a sprinkling or garnishing on a much bigger meal, practically a decoration. It really doesn't play that big of a role in the plot or what Grant does. Also, Grant is one of those really frustrating protagonists who puts himself in really bad situations. If he'd been responsible and hadn't been having an affair/being a homewrecker, he wouldn't have been the primary suspect in this murder case. So, it's kinda hard to sympathize or empathize with him, unless it's to sympathize with him in the way you sympathize with a character in a Sacha Baron Cohen or Adam Sandler movie. These are the kinds of protagonists you kinda want to punch in the face, yet you don't want to see them die or end up in jail.
In a lot of ways, Kincaid is the real main protagonist. For one, he is actually leading the effort to solve the case. He is actually performing the interviews with (and finding) suspects. He is actually Stefanie's supervisor and partner in solving these crimes. It is a little interesting to have multiple main characters on different sides of this case.
A character who we really loved was Stefanie. She is so cool, so capable, and so hot. She is definitely a candidate for “Hottest Character.” She is described so well and in such a flattering, appealing manner. It is really cool to see her in action, showing off her jiu-jitsu skills.
The stakes in this book really rise when the body-count rises. We are pressed with the questions: Is there a serial-killer on hand? Are these “suicides” really suicides?
This book will keep you on the edges, on your toes, and guessing.
Check it out on Amazon!