Nancy Mehl. Fatal Frost. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2016. See here to buy the book.
Fatal Frost is the first book of the “Defenders of Justice”
series. In this novel, Mercy Brennan is a U.S. Marshall. After Mercy
is shot, her estranged father, Nick, comes back into her life. Nick
also was a U.S. Marshall. The two of them have lunch together. Nick
apologizes for his absence from her life since her childhood, and the
two of them joke about Mercy’s therapy, and the therapy that many cops
have to receive after traumatic experiences: how the therapist is
hesitant to release Mercy back into duty if Mercy says she feels all
right, but is willing to release her if Mercy says she is traumatized.
Meanwhile, there are the gangs. There is a local gang leader,
Darius, and the larger, more powerful Vargas gang, which is recruiting
Darius for a task. They are all launching a plot: their plan is to
release a doctored video portraying excessive police force, use that
video to instigate a riot, and take advantage of the mayhem from that
riot to enrich themselves. But there is a problem: the video is out
there somewhere, but it has not yet been doctored to make the cop look
guilty! Actually, the video shows who really shot that person in the
car. That somewhat undermines gangs’ plan, so they want to find that
Another character in this novel is Tally, who is Mercy’s partner in
the force. Tally is a fatherly, African-American gentleman. Tally and
his wife, Annie, are like mentors to Mercy. There is also Mark, who is a
U.S. Marshall. Mark was romantically involved with Mercy, but they
broke up after Mark became a Christian. Mark still has feelings for
Mercy, but he laments that Mercy wears a thick emotional shield. As
Mercy deals with her emotional wounds, she remains closed to embracing
the Christian faith.
You will have to read the book to see how all these details intersect
in the plot! A key plot-element is that Mark, Tally, and Mercy get
trapped in a remote cabin during an ice storm, and the gangs are coming
This book was an enjoyable read. Those who enjoy cop-shows may
appreciate this book, which is like an episode of a cop-show, albeit
with a Christian spin. The book provides background information that
allows readers to know the characters better. The characters deal with
their temptations and struggles, and there is empathy even towards those
who make poor choices. The novel’s prose is simple, and yet there is
an elegance to it.
In terms of the book’s depiction of religion, Mark seems to embrace a
Joel Osteenish sort of Christianity. His pastor interprets Christian
concepts in light of Mark’s destiny: Mark should not be unequally yoked
with Mercy because that may hinder him from his Christian destiny; Mark
should accept God’s forgiveness for sleeping with Mercy because his past
sin need not shatter his destiny. Mark also feels better about himself
after becoming a Christian. Some Christian readers may have problems
with this depiction of Christianity, thinking that it avoids key themes
such as sin and Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Personally, I
appreciated the book’s practical take on forgiveness. There were also
other religious features of the book that I liked, as well: how Mark and
Tally did not try to shove religion down Mercy’s throat but simply
lived authentic human lives, as Christians.
The book’s interaction with the issue of police brutality was
somewhat of a turn-off to me. I, for one, rejoice that people’s phones
are capturing incidents of police brutality and releasing them to the
public, so that rogue cops can finally be held accountable for their
behavior rather than covering for each other. I see that as justice. This
book perhaps would have been better had it acknowledged as legitimate
the concerns of those who are victims of police brutality.
That said, this is still a good book, and, time permitting, I may read more Nancy Mehl novels in the future.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest!