The Sacred Sin – Estevan Vega

The Sacred Sin
Estevan Vega
PublishAmerica, 2007
218 pages

I’ve been enjoying going through the fiction end of my review shelf as I’m on my break between semesters, and The Sacred Sin is my latest read. The second novel published by Vega, it’s a psychological horror tale that takes an ordinary murder mystery and literally demonizes it.

Jude Foster, L.A. detective, has a lot on his plate. In addition to an unwanted replacement for his former partner (and would-be murderer), he has persistent psychological traumas stemming from the demons within–and takes on a murder case that ends up turning up the demons without as well. But how do you deal with a killer who not only takes people’s lives–but their souls as well? Not easily, and not without things getting incredibly messy.

Unlike so many characters which often seem indistinct and more than occasionally end up being confused with each other in my mind, Vega’s creations are memorable and interact in a believable manner. Jude, his main protagonist, makes an excellent focus for the story, though the scenes without him offer excellent fleshing-out of the story. Rachel Cragin, his new partner, is likable enough, though the irritation–and then later shifts in their relationship–is clear in their interactions. Together they maneuver through a world full of gritty realities and terrifying supernatural phenomena, and I kept on with the book in part because I wanted to know what happened to them next.

The ride along to the climax of this novel kept me distracted from…well…all sorts of other things I should have been doing–but it was well worth the distraction! Vega is a superb writer; his writing is descriptive enough to clearly illustrate what’s going on, but avoids being overly wordy. And his pacing is excellent; I was never bored while reading this book, and I didn’t expect the ending to go quite the way that it did. He takes a good number of liberties with occultism–but then again, it is a work of fiction.

My only real complaint with the book is the scattering of typos throughout. Granted, this happens with most publishers, but there were a few more than I normally see in a work of this length. Still, the book’s quite readable, and admittedly I tend to notice typos more than many readers.

Overall, if you’re looking for a quick but thoroughly enjoyable read, this would be a good choice. Oh, and little tidbit of trivia–the author was eighteen years old when this was published. Good work for an author that we’ll hopefully be seeing a lot more from.

Four and a half pawprints out of five.

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