Dee Sullivan,
Deadly Behavior
(TurnKey, 2004)

Some books are hard to read because of their painful truths. With others, the characters are so sympathetic, you just ache along with their suffering. But some books, like Deadly Behavior, are agonizing to read because they are just badly written. Dee Sullivan delivers a dud with this poorly plotted, thinly conceptualized and insultingly ridiculous book.

Sixteen-year-old Lisa is the helpless victim of her brutal, violent, philandering and sexual-abusing father, who also happens to be the highly respected town mayor. Along with her passive mother, Lisa is, inexplicably, the only person who sees the Mr. Hyde side of his personality. After her father tries to rape her, Lisa decides to protect her virginity by running away. But before she goes, she wants one last glimpse of her mother, so she heads over to the dinner party her parents are attending. There, she hears her father plot to murder a political rival (in such open language that an FBI agent would writhe in glee if he had someone nearby with a wire) and the game is on. Her father deduces the reasons for her absence and sends henchmen to track her. But Lisa is determined to stay one step ahead of her evil Daddy. Luckily, she meets some good friends along the way, ones who introduce her to....

Jesus. Yes, Sullivan pulls a bait and switch with this book. She calls Deadly Behavior a "novel of suspense." But what she really means is "a novel of suspense, with Jesus." About 20 pages in, religious references start popping up. Soon, Lisa is being tortured by an evil psychologist, paid by her father, who insists she denounce her newfound religious faith. Because, for some reason, getting Lisa to deny her father's evil nature is just not enough.

I have nothing against religious novels, but they are not to everyone's taste. Then again, neither are books with hideous characterization, ludicrous plots and embarrassing cliches like "Lisa built a wall around her emotions" and "his hands were all over her like Crazy Glue," and "God will take all that hurt away." So, really, the hidden religious agenda in Deadly Behavior is just one more layer of icing on a very bad cake.

- Rambles
written by Tracie Vida
published 9 April 2005

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