I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
I love Earlene Fowler's Benni Harper mystery series, but shied away from this book for years because it sounded sappy. It wasn't sappy, but I still didn't like it much. Even though I knew from reading the acknowledgments in her Benni Harper books that she is a vocal Christian (not in a bad way - just an active credit to her faith front and center in each book - I did not know this one and its follow up would have a concentration of faith and Christianity as part of its storyline.
It wasn't too heavy handed, and the author made sure the characters were non-judgemental and weren't too picky what the 'higher power' was called, but it still wasn't my jam. It's not that I'm an atheist; I'm not. But I am cynical; the more you talk about it, the more apt I am to to think you're trying too hard.
So, I wasn't inclined to enjoy the story, although I did, like all the author's other books, become invested in the characters and this is what kept me reading. A lot of characters were American Indian, which added a more realistic roundness to the community of Cardinal Valley. And the story's 'mystery' was pretty damn shocking. Mostly because I wasn't expecting this to be a story that went in that direction, but also because Fowler's other work avoided the decidedly less functional dynamics that happen when people have too much power and influence. Everything about this story was tragic.
In retrospect, I probably liked this book more than my rating suggests. I read the second one before I wrote this and I'm pretty sure it coloured my feelings about this book. The story here was compelling and the book ended on a hopeful note. Unfortunately, it ends with unresolved issues, making the second book necessary if closure for the reader is a priority and well... I didn't like the second book.