★★★★ Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich is a religious thriller about a deadly criminal named Pamela Jane Watts and the homicide detective who’s hell-bent on catching her. Captain Linda Turner has seen plenty of heinous crime scenes during her time on the force, but nothing has affected her quite like the murder of a pastor and his two children. After the victims’ bodies are found buried on parsonage property, Linda and her team notice that the wife is missing. Is she buried elsewhere? Or could she somehow be involved in the murders herself? At the same time, a struggling television evangelist named Reverend Ray Williams has just decided to end his low-performing TV program, The Road to Calvary, when an enthusiastic congregant comes to him with a plan to save the show. Unbeknownst to Ray, this savior has a few secrets of her own.
Grim, gripping, and relentlessly realistic, Salvation Station is a chilling tale of mothers and murderers. The plot has a propulsive quality to it, which comes from the polar opposite personalities of its main characters—Linda, the determined upholder of truth and virtue; and Pamela, the dark entity who will do anything for her own personal gain. A powerful, tense buzz builds up between these two women over the course of the story, driving them both towards a conclusion that feels inevitable, yet wholly earned. The author also works in themes of power and organized religion, which, in real life, can play off of each other in unhealthy ways. This is a must-read for anyone who treats authority figures with a fair amount of skepticism—and for those who should.