Alec Lowell—once guitarist for death metal band The Great, then a target for Satanists as a believer with an apparently miraculous ability to heal—carries on after surviving the trauma heaped upon him due to his brother Lucas’s attempt to find redemption in a Christian cult. Alec may be healing mentally, but he can never forgive Lucas for the physical damage he was left with due to Lucas’s actions. Lucas doesn’t expect forgiveness as he lives in self-imposed exile as a cemetery groundskeeper, a penance for his own sins, and under the watchful eye of the Satanic cult he once led. When Alec goes missing, the Satanists watching Lucas make things clear. They want their own revenge, and they will go after both Lucas and Alec’s family to achieve it. When a handicapped girl once partially healed by Alec is targeted by the Satanists, Lucas feels he must redeem himself by helping her, setting in motion a chain of bloody events as the cult seeks to fulfill its prophecies—which require the ritual killing of Lucas.
Author Diane M. Johnson has done an excellent job of building a believable fictional universe in PERFECT SACRIFICES (Perfect Prophet Book 3), and has populated it with characters who usually feel like real, tangible people. The violence can be brutal, so those with triggers tied to torture and killing will have a tough go of it. The Satanists are literally everywhere in this small Midwestern community, and this leads to a somewhat repetitive loop in the story: Good people are introduced, try to do the right thing, and are betrayed by a Satanist in their midst and killed in some horrible way. This happens so often it begins to lose its shock value, and the reader soon knows exactly what will happen every time a police officer or innocent bystander shows up to complicate the cult’s plans. The cult itself lacks any reason for existence beyond, one assumes, worshiping Satan, sneering at believers, and murdering its way to fulfilling its prophecy. But the details of that prophecy aren’t made clear, and the Satanists seem to proceed with their atrocities for no particular reason other than being Satanists and that’s what Satanists do. Still, Lucas is an effective character, a man tortured by his own past actions and desperate to make good, even if it means repeatedly putting himself in harm’s way. Johnson’s plotting is intelligent, and if it never quite surprises it also never veers into the ridiculous. The final act holds a few surprises, especially considering how brutal the bulk of the story is. For fans of bloody, magical, religion-flavored mayhem, this will do just fine.
Author Diane M. Johnson builds a universe that feels real, populated by interesting characters in PERFECT SACRIFICES (Perfect Prophet Book 3), a brutal story of gray moralities and dark magic with a surprising finale.
~Jeff Somers for IndieReader