Ann Lawrence,
Do You Believe?
(Tor, 2005)

Rose Early has traveled to the quaint English town of Marleton to find her sister Joan, who vanished while researching a book. The only trace of her that Rose has been able to find is a neatly packed box stowed in the closet of her room. Among the objects in the box is a horror novel called Do You Believe In Evil? by V.F. Drummond. To Rose's surprise, the book is heavily annotated. Curious, she seeks out the author, who coincidentally lives in Marleton.

Vic Drummond, however, is having problems of his own. He keeps having horrific dreams about his recently deceased aunt, and words that he doesn't remember typing keep appearing in his latest novel manuscript, words that he cannot delete, words that seem to predict the future.

But there's something else weird going on in Marleton. Why, for instance, does Rose get sick every time she goes into the church? Where has her sister -- who everyone in the village seems to have known, though not everyone liked -- gone? Is it possible there really is such a thing as true evil? In Marleton, of all places, where so much of life is centered around the huge church?

Do You Believe? is a creepy, well-paced mystery with horror overtones, including the dark, mysterious church, the strange people of the town and the unfriendly owner of Joan's bed and breakfast. At the same time, it is a romance novel with a sort of standard attraction/dislike dynamic between the main characters. Even though they don't necessarily like one another, they are extremely attracted to one another.

Several disparate threads come together under Ann Lawrence's hand to create a tapestry as intricate as that of the Marleton church. The only odd thread involves an aspect of the outcome that seems to appear from nowhere -- there are absolutely no hints leading up to this particular revelation, or if there are, they're undetectably subtle, but that is my only complaint about the book.

Give Rose and Vic's story a try and you may find yourself asking the question Do You Believe?

by Laurie Thayer
30 December 2006

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