Sunday Best - Sin on Saturday to pray on Sunday
by Ann Lineberger
Published in 2018
I got a request via Instagram from an author, Ann Lineberger, to review her book Sunday Best. With the promise of some murder, humor, mystery and sex club connections, I knew this was a must read to add to my TBR! Within the first few chapters, I knew I was going to be in for a treat.
Samuel Bloom is the founder of Bloom Brothers with his two sons Charles and Walter Bloom. Walter has always been a problem child with an addiction to sex since he was a teenager, finding and hiring various prostitutes until at 20 years old he accidentally kills a prostitute through strangling. His father covers up the murder in exchange for Walter having to give up his inheritance and work in the family business and marry and live a traditional life moving forward. Walter agrees to those terms and follows through with this facade, while keeping his involvement with prostitutes and various sex clubs behind closed doors, until he is found murdered on Mercer’s estate. Charles hires a private investigator, Claire, to look into the murder as well as Brooke, Lauren, and Jackie to look into the sex clubs to see if there is any useful information in the investigation. They automatically are reminded that this murder case may be similar to one from 20 years prior of Betsy Stone, who was also a member of a cult-like church called Unify. Unify was founded by Brooke and Lauren’s mom, Eleanor, along with Mercer and Ginny and combined some believings of Catholicism with believings of the paranormal. This was created by Eleanor who dabbled in the paranormal, after the death of her husband, and managed to make into a huge career while participating in the church as well.
Jackie partners with her coworker Darren to go undercover and infiltrate the various sex clubs Walter was a member of. They narrow it down to 3 sex clubs, FitSwingers, IG (Instant Gratification), and Rainbow. They begin with FitSwingers where they learn that Walter used to attend until a fight broke out after he was strangling a woman, since he was into erotic asphyxiation, and she passed out. Meanwhile, Brooke and Lauren attend a Unify reunion where they realize all the children of the members also resent their parents and resent the church. They also realize some memories from when they are children that don’t quite add up today and come to the conclusion that Unify church was a cover for another swinger group and that they were drugging them as children to sleep through their swinger parties. With all that in the light, they realize that meant Betsy Stone who was a member of Unify is definitely connected to Walter since they both seem to be sex crimes.
Jackie and Darren go to IG next, where they discover that IG was founded by Mercer. Darren and Brooke’s daughter begin to get harassed as articles are released connecting the murders of Walter and Betsy back to Mercer and Unify. Lauren decides to ask Mercer’s daughter Candace out for dinner to see if she has any information that could be helpful. Candace reveals that her father, Mercer, was actually having an affair with Betsy Stone while her mother Ginny was in the hospital suffering from dementia. Lauren and Brooke decide to visit Ginny when all the pieces finally come together after she reveals that Wendy, Walter’s ex-wife, was a part of Unify church. Candace is arrested as the truth is revealed that she murdered Betsy Stone after finding out about her father’s affair and killed Walter after learning all the grief he caused Wendy during their marriage and after their divorce.
Final Rating & Thoughts: 8/10 I honestly did not see that ending coming! I was a little nervous at first reading Sunday Best because I knew there was going to be a murder of this man who was involved in sex clubs and that there would be a cult-like church but I had no idea how the author was going to be able to connect the two. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find how well they connected and how it was also connected to the murder from years prior. I wouldn’t have expected Candace to be behind it this whole time, I kept expecting it to be Mercer or Eleanor, but I think Candace being the murderer all along is perfectly fitting, especially with her so called “perfect” life and career after leaving Unify. I also think the reasons the book gives Wendy for killing Betsy would definitely warrant her to lose her cool. However, I didn’t completely understand why she killed Walter for Wendy. Towards the last final pages it is revealed that she has built a relationship similar to a life coach with Wendy and was angry that Walter treated her poorly during their marriage and even after their divorce, Walter was finicky with his alimony payments. To save Wendy the grief of dealing with him, she planned to kill Walter for her with Wendy arriving in his last moments of life to know his ex-wife was behind it all along. I am not saying Wendy’s reasons for murdering him aren’t valid, but as his ex-wife and with the tension between them, she should have been the first suspect of the murder, yet nobody even suspected her involvement.
I also found Sunday Best to be very context heavy, with a lot of details added in and side plots that I don’t think add to the story and can be a little distracting. In the beginning in particular, the author throws in a lot of information to understand Walter and the Unify church and everyone’s connections to each other, but it happens very quickly and can be overwhelming. With this story having the intense plot that it does, it could have been a longer book so that all that context occurs more naturally than just being an overload of information. With that being said, once you get going, it is almost impossible to put this book down. I actually found myself writing my own list of suspects along with the characters in their investigation to see if I could correctly guess the murderer (and I was dead wrong…). I also really enjoy the pace that the book follows with it being a little slower in the beginning until we start getting closer and closer to finding the murderer and the pace speeds up as we near the end.
Even though I am probably not supposed to, my favorite character was definitely Eleanor. She was written in such a way that she is an over exaggerated diva who is just full of herself and her clairvoyant abilities and her participation in Unify. She’s a character that could have easily been tacky, but is instead humorous in her interactions and beliefs. I couldn’t stop laughing at how many ways she could turn just about any conversation to be about her and all the bullshit pitches she gave people to buy her products. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to those looking for a murderous drama. I love that the author doesn’t shy away from the topics in this book especially with a church being connected to sex clubs. She writes it in a way where when the big reveal happens that the church is really a cover for it being a sex club, it makes sense, because all the clues throughout the book have led to this discovery.