Contemporary Christian Fiction

Still Life by Dani Pettrey


“Truth. That’s what she needed to focus on—who God said she was as a child of His—rather than the ugly memories tugging at her mind. She knew where those were coming from, and it wasn’t God.”

About the Book

Someone Is Out There. Watching Her. Waiting.

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime-scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime-scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit for which her friend modeled. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found, and so Avery immediately calls Parker for help.

As Avery, Parker, and their friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

My Thoughts

Still Life is Dani Pettrey’s edgiest novel to date. Inspired by The Black Dahlia, The story opens at a macabre art show in which a photographer has attempted to capture the beauty of death. Shock ripples through the gallery on opening night when it’s discovered that one of the pieces has been replaced with a fake. When Skylar, who appears to have modeled for both the original and forgery fails to appear, her friend Avery becomes concerned—something about the second portrait is eerily unsettling. Thus the stage is set for crime thriller that is rather unusual for it’s genre.

The most notable deviation from the Christian fiction formula for romantic suspense is the dark subject matter. I would go as far as to say Still Life leans towards a psychological thriller. There’s an undeniable attraction between Parker and Avery, but I felt the primary suspect’s morbid fascination with death almost upstaged their romance. Furthermore, Avery and Skylar’s checkered pasts exemplify the difference between a life redeemed by Christ and one lived in the flesh.

Aside from Parker and Avery; Declan, Finley, Kate, Tanner, and Griffin (who is now a homicide detective) also reunite to collaborate on this case. With Pettrey’s knack for bringing new readers up to speed, Still Life could stand on its own. However, in order to have a more complete understanding of the secondary storyline which involves Luke, refugees, and a terrorist plot, I advise beginning with Cold Shot.

In summary, Still Life is an edgy, suspense/romance sure to satisfy those who crave diversity in Christian fiction. The darker tones of the novel do not diminish the author’s overarching message surrounding Avery’s character. That is, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I look forward to the continuation of the Chesapeake Valor series.

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Many thanks Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a review copy. All opinions are my own.

5 thoughts on “Still Life by Dani Pettrey

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