by John Desjarlais
Manchester: Sophia Institute Press, 2011

Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

In the book of Genesis, it is written “I will make you enemies of each other: You, serpent, and the woman. She will crush your head and you will strike at her heels.” (Genesis 3:15) That quote serves as the inspiration for John Desjarlais’ latest work of Catholic fiction, “Viper,” a compelling mystery that will keep readers in suspense.

Selena De La Cruz, a woman with a fondness for expensive footwear, is an insurance agent trying to forget her past as a drug enforcement agent. When her name shows up on a short list of people to be murdered, she is forced to face her demons – both literally and figuratively. Meanwhile, Jacinta, a young Latina, has been seeing visions in a cemetery of a “Blue Lady” many believe to be Our Lady of Guadalupe. “The Blue Lady calls for prayer and repentance, and then announces judgment upon those who are victimizing her children and bringing shame upon her people.” The individuals on the hit list have been killed one by one within forty-eight hours of when the visions occur.

A man known only as “The Snake” is the primary suspect. All of the targets, including Selena when she was working undercover, have had dealings with him. His calling card is the snake venom left in his victims.

“Viper” is rooted in Latin culture and religion. Selena is a woman trying to live in two worlds and not finding a home in either one. This is a classic who-done-it, but it is also a story of Selena’s evolution as a woman. Desjarlais has woven a highly-readable tale that mystery lovers or fans of Catholic fiction will greatly enjoy.

(VIPER is scheduled for a Jan. 2011 release)

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