Simon & Schuster, May 3 2011, $25.00
Thirtyish Conway Unit senior psychiatric nurse Alan Jacobs is found dead in a churchyard of Saint Peter’s Church in the Severn Vale district. Coroner Jenny Cooper looks into what appears to be a suicide.
Not long afterward prison priest Father Lucas Starr asks Jenny to investigate the murder of adult film actress Eva Donaldson. The request is odd as Paul Craven, who confessed, was convicted of the homicide. Father Starr believes Craven confessed because he is a bit touched and that the man did not commit the killing. Jenny agrees to do a cursory look. She finds out that that the late actress joined the Mission Church of God after quitting the porn industry. The victim also supported Decency a group demanding internet pornography be outlawed. As she works on both cases while still struggling with her nasty divorce that pile on top of her uglier childhood, Cooper finds connections between Donaldson and Jacobs; even as her fuming superiors (over Jenny solving the Disappearance case) demand she wrap up her two investigations immediately.
Cooper is an incredible character as she is so F up that it is amazing she is not restrained; the subplot when she was five years old enhance how mentally hurt she is. The whodunit focuses on religious and political corruption that the brass prefers disappears as M. R. Hall makes a strong case that justice is a two tiered system: the wealthy can flaunt the law and then there is the masses. Sub-genre fans will appreciate The Redeemed as Cooper battles with her personal problems fearing a breakdown and wars with her superiors over her successful inquiries breaking the Golden Rule of those with the gold make the rule.