Salvation Station Reviews
Cara Lockwood, USA Today Best Selling Author of I Do (But I Don’t)
Salvation Station is your next must-read mystery. Kathryn Schleich perfectly blends together a taut tale of murder in the church. A devilishly good tale.
Margo Dill, Managing Editor, WOW! Women On Writing
Salvation Station is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning thriller that might possibly leave you unable to sleep. This book is what we need in the world right now—a killer we can hate and a model cop we can get behind, showing us that women are as fierce as men and then some.
Gila Green, Author of Passport Control
“It was a glorious August day, and sounds of active neighbors filled the air. Kids rode their bikes, while parents mowed lawns and tended to vegetable and flower gardens.”
In her debut novel Salvation Station Kathryn Schleich takes us to picturesque small-town America where Christianity is more of a cult than a religion and blind faith can lead you to places your mother would have told you to avoid.
“Linda kept focusing on those tiny pajama-clad bodies.” With this line begins Captain Linda Turner’s obsession with the murder of young children and Schleich’s first plot line; Turner’s meticulous police work carries the novel until Katherine Schleich’s whodunnit conclusion.
As a foil for the clever, on-the-ball, Turner, Schleich creates sly Susannah Baker, who manipulates a Christian pastor into manufacturing miracles to refill his empty coffers. Baker is a great villain, but how far will she go? Schleich keeps readers guessing and that’s part of the page-turning fun of this novel.
I’ve been looking forward to Kathryn Schleich’s debut novel for some time and she did not disappoint.Bravo on this ambitious first novel!
Midwest Book Review
In a homicide detective’s life, there’s usually one case that haunts…that can’t be solved…whose legacy lives beyond the investigative process long after the file is closed. Salvation Station is about that case and Captain Linda Turner’s ongoing probe of a Nebraska family’s murder and a wife’s disappearance.
But that isn’t the only thing that drives the characters of Salvation Station. It’s a multifaceted read that also includes the dilemmas and challenges of disparate people across the country, from a struggling televangelist whose questionable belief and stage approach is tested to Linda’s new life and interactions with Ray and Susannah, and the path of fraud and deceit which evolves from their relationship.
Mystery, murder, faith, and uncertain redemption permeate a story that follows both a clever cat-and-mouse game between killer and investigator and individuals who have honed coping mechanisms to get what they want out of life, only to find these approaches challenged in new ways.
Linda Turner and Detective Johnson are tenacious. What they uncover about the identity of the perp will surprise readers and investigators alike. Their engrossing experiences winds two very different lives together, connecting them with a grisly murder that is only solved because passion and love gets in the way of cold calculation.
Salvation Station excels in unexpected twists and turns that keep readers on their toes. It deftly links various attacks and their possible shared roots, probes Linda’s professional and private life, and discusses a marriage that isn’t made in heaven, but portends a peculiar form of hell.
The result is a tale steeped in intrigue and changes. Like a particularly challenging murder mystery, it will linger in the mind long after its conclusion.
The US Review
Malevolence in the Midwest is at the heart of this crime tale. While religion is ever-present throughout, it is the misappropriation of faith and using it for obscenely evil purposes that take readers through a winding trail of deception, depravity, mayhem, and murder.
Linda is a Nebraska policewoman assigned to a particularly heinous crime. The remains of a man and two young children have been found buried in a garden. Eventually, the bodies are identified as a former preacher and his kids, who, along with the wife and mother, were thought to have left for missionary work in Africa. Where then is the missing member of the family? Simultaneously, a story unwinds involving a televangelist in Missouri with a hamstring operation growing more financially precarious by the day. Soon a mysterious woman arrives who captivates the minister, annoys the employees, and begins to turn a struggling operating into an economic juggernaut. But to what end?
The author is a skilled storyteller who juggles both plotlines dexterously as she bobs and weaves her way to an intersection of narratives. Once the cat is out of the bag, Schleich begins to unfold an intricate police procedural that credibly chronicles a dedicated manhunt even as the ruthless suspect continues a wave of immoral evildoing. In the process, additional lives are lost, and readers get to know one of the most wickedly interesting Medusas that has come along for some time. This is a story that keeps one turning pages to tale’s end, less to know who, and more to know what will become of the hunter and the hunted.
Red City Reviews
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.
Jack Tysoe, Ignoring Life
Salvation Station is a novel about a murder investigation, dealing with corruption in the church and gives a cynical look at organised religion.
Police Captain Linda Turner is called in to investigate when three bodies are discovered in the flower beds of a recently sold house. The bodies are a father and his two young children, who was believed to have recently left the country to preach somewhere far away. The discovery of the families bodies is a shock to Turner, who sets her laser focus on finding the killer. Meanwhile, a failing televangelist show is on the brink of going under, when a mysterious female fan meets the show’s host, Reverend Raymond. She has big ideas for the show, and saves it from being cancelled, but not everyone in the cast and crew trusts her.
This book was described to me as a mystery, but in all honesty there are no prizes for guessing who the killer is – there’s about 7 characters in the book, and it’s super obvious who the perp is. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not a mystery. It’s more of a thriller, or just a literary novel. There’s other selling points here, and it’s hard to really categorize this one. Yes, it’s about police investigating a crime, but it’s clear to the reader early on who committed it. There is satisfaction in seeing how the guilty party is manipulating people and plotting further crimes, while the police and the community start to realize what they are dealing with. So, no mystery in this one, but still a good crime novel.
Scleich has created a genuine monster in the killer here. They are a calculating, cold villain, obviously they must be since they are a child killer, but it becomes clear the murders were not done in the heat of the moment, and there is no remorse – there’s even plans for more murders. The killer is such a heartless character – a real memorable villain. I think this character is what makes the book what it is. The reader can see through the friendly veneer, and knows how evil and calculating this person is, while the other characters in the book believe they are a saint, even a blessing. Whilst they are easily fooled, the other characters don’t come across as naive or gullible – it’s a real balancing act that Schleich has pulled off.
This is a cool little crime story, and the swipe at money grabbing using religion as a front is a nice extra layer to this novel. It’s one to check out, especially if you’re into crime stories.
Katherine Czyzewski, The Salty Bookworm
When committed female police captain Linda Turner, haunted by the murders of two small children and their pastor father, becomes obsessed with solving the harrowing case, she finds herself wrapped up in a mission to expose a fraudulent religious organization and an unrepentant killer.
Multiple story lines entwine throughout this compelling mystery, delving into the topics of murder, religious faith, and the inherent dangers in blindly accepting faith as truth. While Reverend Williams is swept up in his newfound success and plans for his wedding, Captain Turner can only hope that she and her team will catch the Hansens’ cunning killer—before more bodies surface.
This book was dark, suspenseful and gripping! I loved the multiple perspectives and writing of Kathryn Schleich.
I REALLY enjoyed this book the whole way through! As soon as I read the sinopsis, I knew I was going to enjoy the story. It was really addicting. I kept imagining a Lifetime movie or an episode of Snapped while I was reading this. If you enjoy any of those things, which I personally do, I think you will really enjoy this story. It’s not really a mystery because you know who’s committed the crime from the beginning, but it’s the kind of story where you are hooked with how everything is playing out. I was never bored and felt that everything had its purpose, which is hard for me to say sometimes. I hope the author keeps writing in this genre because I will keep reading anything else she puts out.
Cari Mayhew (Goodreads – 5 Stars)
Gotta love a book with multiple storylines – it’s like reading several books at once – and then it all comes together for the main event!
The shocking first story line begins with a crime scene. The bodies of a reverend and his two children are discovered, and the mother is nowhere to be found. Interestingly, a partial print of the culprit is found that matches 3 different identities on the police database.
Similarly, the second story line is steeped in underhand behaviour. Just as Reverend Ray’s televised church programme is on its knees, about to become mere a memory to its small congregation, along comes Susannah Baker, brimming with ideas on not only how to save the show but to take it new giddy heights.
But it’s the means that give cause for concern. Susannah suggests using microphones to record congregation members talking amongst themselves, only for the reverend to address the congregation members directly, providing the Will of God, to assist the reverend in healing them of their troubles. And this just the beginning for the show!
Susannah’s suggestions see the Salvation Station show come on leaps and bounds under her influence, raking in thousands of dollars in donations. Reverend Ray and his 2 main co-workers are reluctant at first, but once the scheme gets going, and over time, Reverend Ray begins really falling for this woman who seemingly came from nowhere.
Meanwhile, back in the initial storyline police captain Linda Turner is working on a theory about an orphan repeating a pattern of switching identities and preying on men of the cloth. At the same time, Ray’s trusty co-workers grow more suspicious of Susannah, and even ask a pal in the police force to do some digging.
At about the 60% mark of the book, the two storylines begin to come together as Captain Turner goes undercover. Things don’t go smoothly however, as smaller sub plots that have been bubbling away, start to play out from repercussions of what’s happened so far.
At the three-quarter point of the book, things really heat-up! There are a couple of uncommonly close calls and even a body count! (No spoilers!) It was at this juncture that I moved from drawn in to completely hooked. Many characters are worse off from being connected to Susannah, but more than one character sees a victory of sorts (again no spoilers!).
When I read the synopsis, I could see there were multiple storylines, and when I saw that chapters were headed with dates and places, I was concerned that I’d have difficulty keeping track of events, but in fact, I was extremely impressed with how well the book flowed so flawlessly together, completely chronological and seamless.
I felt a satisfaction, when the initial suspicion, which was laid on thick as concrete, felt more justified as the story played out. It was also interesting that the story could have played out in different ways at certain junctures that could pave the way for some interesting fan-fiction writing. For example, a court scene could have been interesting, or a deep reflection from Susannah for her most heinous deeds.
The setting of a religious campaign makes for a dramatic contrast for the deception and close calls and murders that play out, and you’ll find yourself easily invested in the characters’ stories!
Rute Carvalho (Goodreads – 5 Stars)
I got sucked into this book!
I’m actually surprised by how much I enjoyed it since it’s not the type of book I usually read, but Salvation Station is truly a page turner; I couldn’t put it down. (Love short chapters!)
The story was so intriguing and evolved so smoothly.
It all starts with the murders of a pastor and two children who were found buried in a garden. The story then follows the investigation of those murders along with another storyline where a pastor is about to lose his show until a mysterious woman jumps in and helps revive the church.
I loved the aspect of being able to follow both the killer and the investigation at the same time through multiple story lines.
I am a Christian myself; the religious element of the book did not bother me at all, but it’s sad to think that people using faith to trick people actually do exist.
This was a great compelling story that will surely make you think twice before you trust someone too quickly.
Danielle Urban, Urban Book Reviews (Goodreads – 4.5 Stars)
Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich is a great mystery novel. It is well-written. I enjoyed the plot. It wasn’t loaded with too many details at all. It contained just enough details and backstory to make it intriguing. The novel surrounds the mystery death of one pastor and his two kids. The mother obviously missing. The three bodies were found by a dog and another pastor. Captain Linda Turner is called on scene to investigate. She cannot get the images of the kids dead bodies out of her mind. Linda was determined to solve the case. But as they mystery kicked up, the details of the deceased people got more interesting. I was entertained from beginning to end with this tale. Salvation Station has suspense, mystery, and the whodunnit vibe. I loved reading this book.
Johanna Carla Salutan (Goodreads – 4 Stars)
Ooooh, this was so good!
My favorite types of stories are definitely page-turning, easy to read, and dark; which will explain why I liked Salvation Station so much. If you’re planning to pick this up, do yourself a favor & don’t look at the synopsis. Just know that this is about:
- A murder mystery involving dead children
- A discussion about Christianity & blind faith
By all accounts, I credit my enjoyment of this book wholly to Kathryn Schleich’s writing style. The plot (as a person who has read way too many thrillers of this type) didn’t surprise me so much. And there are definitely instances where I felt the characters weren’t too nuanced, to its detriment. But I don’t know… I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Kathryn Schleich just has it- that writing style that pulls you in regardless. I prefer to think of it as natural talent? I really can’t explain it. But despite those small issues, the reading experience was smooth as butter.
I really really enjoyed this. A really fun, dark story, and I’d especially recommend it to anyone who is interested in thrillers centering around religion. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s a crazy easy read!
Paul Shepherd (Goodreads – 4 Stars)
There was a lot to take in when reading the blurb for this book. Multiple stories lines all intertwining to tell a grand story. I suppose there were a few things that drew me into giving this author work ago. There are of course the usual elements of crime and mystery that will always pique my interest. But I suppose one thing that drew me in was the additional elements of religion. While my country is by default a Christian one it’s really not something that takes up a lot if any thought to most people. And one thing to the best of my knowledge we definitely don’t have is Televangelists. It’s not a medium that seems to have passed over the pond. My knowledge of them to be fair is usually in some article about a crooked one from America. I was hoping this could bring a new element to a genre that I’m more than familiar with.
Kathryn certainly set herself a high bar when setting out to write this story, there were a great many characters for me to sink my teeth into. It allows for a great river to run through this book which kept on pushing me further into this dark world. Firstly Turner is a perfectly crafted police Captain, she brought to the table everything I usually look for in such a person. There is a dogged determination that means she would never forgive herself for giving up on a victim. Letting their voice sink back down into the mire is simply not in her wheelhouse. For me, she came off the page as a person who genuinely cares and that I think is an admirable quality Kathryn gave me a look into a world as for mentioned I knew little about. This needs to reach as many people as possible with his words. And while it still remains a world very alien to me it did give the story for me a new layer and went into a place that you can imagine as going very wrong.
Overall I could tell this author put a great deal of thought and effort into the story she wanted to tell. the two interchanging timelines allowed her story to breath out and never feel like it was running into dead ends. I was kept guessing the whole time as I not only tried to piece together the puzzles of the individual stories but to also rack my brains as to how they would come to fit together and give to me the complete picture. I really do commend her as she kept me guessing for a lot longer than I thought it would. She also does something that great crime novels do and asked question of me as a reader that goes beyond its predefined genre. For me at least I want books to go beyond and to make me question what I may have expected of any given subject. I suppose one of the big things in here for me is this notion of faith and if blind faith can ever be a truly good thing. Much like me as a reader should we not always question what we are being presented with. Maybe if it all seems too good to be true then we already have our answer.
Salvation Station is Schleich’s first full-length fiction book and as a first inning, I would say she did a great job. It was a book that gave me what I was looking for on these rainy evenings. Two worlds both very dark in their own ways. With people looking to take what does not belong to them be it the life of another, fame or just good old-fashioned greed of money. Faith can be a dangerous thing in the wrong hands, but maybe it might also just bring justice to a family who is slowly being forgotten.
Amanda Hupe, Amanda’s Book Review
Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich has a very intense beginning. Captain Linda Turner is brought to a home where 3 bodies are discovered. This crime is one of the worst crimes she has come across, especially since it involves two children. She will stop at nothing to find the murderer. The children and their father are discovered but their mother is nowhere to be found. Her investigation leads her to a corrupt religious organization. Ray Williams is a televangelist. However, his show only has a few supporters and cannot carry on financially. One of his members brings him ideas that she claims are from God. He agrees with these ideas. However, no one can predict how these events collide.
One thing is for sure, this book will tear at your heartstrings. Crime thrillers can be difficult to read, especially when they involve children. Although, this really has the reader rooting for Linda to solve the murder. I love Linda. She is strong, fierce, and completely devoted to her job for all the right reasons.
The beginning of the story is pretty intense with the revelation of the murder. However, after the pace does decline a bit. There are multiple points-of-view, some that I don’t feel is completely necessary. Then there are the very strong religious themes. I honestly didn’t care about this aspect at all. However, this is a really compelling and eerie mystery. I would definitely read more books by this author. I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.
Josee Blanchard (Goodreads – 3 Stars)
This book was a ride. This kind of book is not my regular reads. And I was shock at how fast I read it.
I have to say it’s very graphic, but in a good way. You start the story of 3 bodies found. Sadly it includes 2 small children.
It talks constantly about religion, pastors, Christianity, God, Jesus. As I am currently trying to find my faith. This book did make me feel odd about Christianity. Since it really reminded me of a cult. But the whole story is good, the first 100 pages I felt a bit confused since I was not sure who was who. The last 100 pages I went through it so fast.
It was thrilling and exciting to find out what is happening. The ending was very good. The reason I gave it 3 stars, it’s not a bad rating in any way. This was my 2nd adult triller/fiction since I started reading. I am so used to reading Young Adult (YA), that it took me a while to get into it. Plus the religion thing that turned me off. But beside that. It’s a really strong book.
For once romance is not really the main point to this story. That I love. Sometimes it’s good to just read it for the plot, and not the mushy stuff.
I really liked the way the author writes. And I would read another book of hers if I could.