For You Have Sinned

Fiction - Thriller - Psychological
256 Pages
Reviewed on 07/29/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In For You Have Sinned by Clifford Edwards, when people start to go missing and bodies are found mutilated in Texas, a disturbing common thread is discovered. Someone seems to be taking revenge on the perpetrators of child abuse and violence against women. Detectives Donolla and Riders' search for the truth leads them into the company of flamboyant and charismatic Pastor Jacob Dryer. With only one hospitalized eye witness, the homicide detectives have to use every skill they have learned to track down the killer before he strikes again. They discover that everything they need to solve the crimes is available at a price but are they willing to pay that price? Someone is out there deciding whose actions are to be forgiven and those who must suffer for their sins.

From the torturous scene at the beginning of this story, I was completely hooked. The characters are so meticulously created with superb backstories and layers to their personalities that keep you guessing through every chapter. Pastor Dreyer has to be one of the vilest characters I have read in a long time, but even my opinion softened a little when I discovered the horrific details of his childhood. The cover-ups of child abuse in the church are handled delicately but honestly. The storyline really makes you question how an abused child can choose to hurt or heal others once they become adults. The plot has as many twists and turns as the characters' actions. Clifford Edwards is a master of storytelling and the darkness of For You Have Sinned reminded me of the great Jeffrey Deaver. The ending and particularly the final line were genius.

Viga Boland

There’s in creepy horror books meant to scare the living daylights out of readers...and then there’s psychological gore, as in what is suffered by the real victims in For You Have Sinned by Clifford Edwards. The difference is you can put those gory horror books aside and forget them: they’re just fiction. For You Have Sinned is fiction too but its reality is entirely possible, even probable especially when it comes to the real victims: sexually abused children and in many cases, their mothers. Such is the situation for Guadaloupe, Lupe for short, when she is raped by a handsome, charismatic, traveling revival preacher. When Lupe’s fiance realizes he couldn’t possibly be the father of her just-born son, Chuy, he abandons her. Six years later she finds the courage to approach the pastor, hoping to get some financial support for herself and her son. Her efforts result in her murder. Chuy, who witnesses the brutal murder, is abandoned. He is taken into what should be a safe place...but it is far from safe... and the cycle of abuse continues. For You Have Sinned is Chuy’s story, and what a story it is.

The novel opens with rather horrific physical gore before slipping back and forth in time to help readers meet all the characters, learn their backgrounds and understand how their pasts, even those of the primary villains, brought them to their inglorious presents. Bodies start surfacing without substantial clues to who might be committing atrocities and two policemen inherit the case. Following limited leads and making connections proves very difficult. Plot complications abound; suspense rises and tensions increase in both the book’s characters and readers. The sense of “trust no-one”, even those who should be most trustworthy, is overwhelming. Only the “avenging angel” is justified in his decision to mete out justice for the abused. Or is he? That’s a question readers will mull over long after the story is finished.

Readers who were born Catholic or Christian will relate closely to many of the concepts, like confession and following the word of God, that populate the book. They most likely will be horrified by the events and people in this story as few of us want to believe those in positions of power or trust could be so evil. Clifford Edwards does a great job of making these characters real. Female readers will find themselves bristling at the blatant misogyny, but it’s nicely balanced by the inclusion of instances of true love and caring. Dialogue is plentiful, the pace fast, the plot complex, and the conclusion satisfyingly explosive. You can read For You Have Sinned in a weekend but you’ll be thinking about what you read for days after. Enjoy!

K.C. Finn

For You Have Sinned is a work of fiction in the psychological thriller and suspense sub-genres, and was penned by author Clifford Edwards. Written for adult audiences, the work does contain some graphic violence and the occasional use of explicit language. Our central protagonists are homicide detectives Anthony Donolla and Aaron Rider, who find themselves deep in a web of dangerous characters and hard questions when they track down a potential killer. This leads them to the studio of televangelist Jacob Dreyer, and from here we come to understand the true nature of cause and effect, especially seen through the eyes of those who take crime and punishment into their own hands.

Author Clifford Edwards has crafted a highly engaging work which takes the best of crime, drama, thriller and murder mystery genres and puts it into a suspenseful psychological tale. I loved the underlying themes of morality, good versus evil, and human nature, which makes the work all the more chilling when you discover the motivations behind the dark deeds of the work. The detective duo at the center of the piece come to life more and more as the plot deepens, rounding out to become capable heroes with a great deal more beneath the surface. For me, the standout character was Pastor Jacob, and the dialogue and atmosphere surrounding the whole televangelism angle was very apt, entertaining, and truly chilling at times too. Overall, I would certainly recommend For You Have Sinned to readers seeking powerful thriller fiction with plenty of surprises.

Lit Amri

“His executioner never broke eye contact. The dying man could feel the world slipping away. He no longer experienced pain, nor fear. He had come to terms with what he had done and why he was here. In his frenzied delirium, he was laughing hysterically. He really didn’t have anything left to say.” In For You Have Sinned by Clifford Edwards, a silver-tongued preacher gains his wealth thanks to his devotees while taking advantage of their desperation for hope and cure. Individuals who are supposed to be men of the cloth ruin the innocents, using faith not to save lives but to mercilessly deceive and hurt them. One man devotes his life to bringing justice for the victims and to punish the sinners.

Clifford Edwards demonstrates the juxtaposition of religious piety and the makings of monsters, how people grieve and persevere, as well as the correlation between retribution and lawful justice. The fast-paced plot thrives on some of the emotional dread and the heinous acts of the characters. The crimes are vile and at times hard to read, reflecting the dark reality of society while evoking empathy for characters who must make sacrifices to survive their frightful circumstance. Nevertheless, love, loyalty, determination, and compassion bring balance and hope for readers to root for as several protagonists strive to do the right thing. A compelling and chilling read, For You Have Sinned explores the gray area of good and evil as well as the incredible range of human emotions and abilities.

Rabia Tanveer

For You Have Sinned by Clifford Edwards is a psychological thriller that had me hiding under the bedcovers and wanting more at the same time. Homicide detectives Aaron Rider and Anthony Donolla had their work cut out for them. People were going missing; bodies were turning up and they had no idea why or who was killing them. They might have a witness but that person is in the hospital and definitely cannot speak. All Rider and Donolla had were their experience working in the field and their wits. They knew they could not trust anyone, not even anyone who came forward with any information. However, as the body count rose, they knew they had to do something to bring justice where it was due. But before that, they had to figure out why the killer was on a spree. Can they figure this one out before it is too late?

Clever narrative, fast-paced, and packed full of action, this is one of those stories that is a pleasure to read. The characters were multidimensional. The pace had me biting my nails and holding my breath. I’ll be honest, the details got a little gritty and raw at times, but that took the reading experience to a whole new level. There were mentions of blood and gore, but that was required of the story. Clifford Edwards sneaked in little details that connected with the future plot points and that was pretty cool. I enjoyed connecting the dots and solving the mystery along with Rider and Donolla. There wasn’t a character overload, but each of them served a purpose. I was sitting on the edge of my seat by the time the story reached a climax and that was when I knew this was a keeper. This was an experience that surprised me with its intricacy. For You Have Sinned is a definite must-read novel for the reader who enjoys a mystery that keeps them guessing.