Check out our interview with Melanie Wells, in addition to this review!
My Soul to Keep (Dylan Foster Series #3) is the newest mystery and psychological thriller by Melanie Wells. Wells has previously written When the Day of Evil Comes and The Soul Hunter, both novels starring psychology professor Dylan Foster, who finds herself with appalling luck following her around. There are characters who are carried from one novel to the next, but no prior knowledge of the series is required for My Soul to Keep to quickly pull you into its thrall.
Melanie Wells and her protagonist Dylan foster share a background in both theology and psychology, and both live in the Dallas, TX area and have ties to Southern Methodist University. While there are similarities, there are also differences. Superficially, Wells has a dog, and Dylan has rabbits. But mostly, one hopes that Wells has never been involved in a real situation as haunting as the storyline in My Soul to Keep.
Before picking up My Soul to Keep, readers should be aware that this novel focuses on an investigation of a child’s abduction, as well as another child’s illness. When the book opens, Professor Dylan Foster is excited by the end of the academic year and her young friend Christine’s 6th birthday. As Dylan and her two friends are chatting, Christine and her friend Nicholas are playing at the park when Nicholas is kidnapped. It’s as if the earth tips off its axis at that point, as the next several days get stranger and stranger, and more and more fraught with anxiety. Melanie Wells’s writing is intense and vivid, painting word pictures of the characters as well as the life of the city of Dallas.
I have been noticing an increase in the number of books with angels or spiritual guides, and in this book Christine is known to be very open to the spiritual realm and has a guide named Earl who helps her. In fact, the searchers misunderstand Christine at first when she says the kidnapper is black – it is his heat and soul she is discussing, not his skin. When a police officer mentions Christine’s sensitivity as a “gift”, Dylan remarks to herself,
“I figured this would be an inappropriate time to mention that I’m sometimes cursed with the same gift, whch I would give back in an instant if I could locate the customer-service department.”
As days pass and Nicholas isn’t found, Christine herself becomes sick, and the tension rises. Wells writes children who act real – Christine may have a connection with the spirit realm, but she still freaks out about getting a chest x-ray! All of the characters act the way one would expect – no martyrs, and plenty of lost tempers.
The women in My Soul to Keep are very strong and supportive of eachother. In some ways their support is tied to unavailable male partners: Dylan is still emotionally tied to her ex-boyfriend David (who Christine insists is still her boyfriend, and that Dylan just needs to bake him snickerdoodles…); Christine’s father is on a missionary trip and unavailable to her mother Liz; Nicholas’s father is in jail, and his mother Maria’s boyfriend is a police officer, caught between supporting his girlfriend and his work. However, the support between the women would shine regardless of the situation.
In My Soul to Keep, Melanie Wells brought characters and the city of Dallas to life. I was transported back a dozen years to when we lived in Dallas – I felt as if I would run into Dylan and her friends at a playground or over enchiladas. I highly recommend meeting these characters and reading My Soul to Keep and the earlier novels by Melanie Wells (When the Day of Evil Comes and The Soul Hunter). I know I’ll be picking up the first two books and also awaiting the fourth book! Don’t forget to read our interview with Melanie Wells, and pick up her books!