Book: Danger in the Shadows

I tend not to like books that have too blatant of a spiritual purpose. If a book is written to teach a lesson, I don’t like it. If it’s written to entertain, and happens to teach one or more lessons, I’m happy. I don’t mind if the characters are people of faith and that this shows up as part of the story.

My first introduction to Dee Henderson was in the O’Malley series. Those books seemed to me to fall a little too far into the first category–each one leads up to the conversion of the lead character. The stories are decently interesting, however, so I was still willing to read them. Nonetheless it took a few positive comments from my wife before I was willing to try another. That book is Danger in the Shadows.

While the characters in this story are people of faith, who live it, talk about it, think about it, and are shaped by it, the story remains the focus. It’s a solid story of suspense. One interesting thing I noticed, however, is that the conflict seems to occur entirely between the good guys and the bad buy. The good guys get together in a most amazing way. There is substantial emotional, spiritual, and romantic conflict, but the major characters seem to manage it with few arguments.

If you like J. D. Robb, you may be disappointed here as the intensity is somewhat less, at least there is less action and more thinking.

I rate this a 3.

Book: Day of the Dead

This is an excellent suspense story by J. A. Jance. I generally rate Jance as a “4” on my 1-5 scale. This particular book is a bit better than that.

It is not a mystery in any sense. I don’t normally read pure suspense, but a combination of mystery and suspense generally does interest me. I picked this up because I have really enjoyed Jance’s mysteries set in Arizona.

The characters in this story are generally either very likeable, or a great pleasure to hate. In other words, they’re interesting and human, and you come to care how things work out. While you know who the bad guys are along the way, there is considerable suspense over just how things will play out and what the costs will be for each of the characters.

The interweave of Native American beliefs and various brands of Christianity was interesting to me as a Bible teacher, as is the interplay of different cultures. All of that is part of building up one’s personal commitment to the characters and the story. It was also fun to encounter Dr. Fran Daly on her home ground (for those who have read some of the Joanna Brady mysteries.)

Overall, though I haven’t put Jance on my “must read, 5 of 5” list, this book is excellent and well-worthwhile reading.

Fiction at Charisma Book Expo

Well, I’m back from the Charisma Book Expo, a conference/expo sponsored by Charisma Magazine to be both a spiritual experience and highlight books and resources for the charismatic Christian market. What’s of potential interest to readers of this blog is that two of the major speakers at the conference have turned to fiction writing for one reason or another.

Tommy Tenney has written a book titled Hadassah: One Night with the King, which has now been made into a movie titled just One Night with the King. I haven’t seen the movie as it has not been released yet, and in fact, I haven’t read the book. I just heard Tommy Tenney discuss them at the conference.

The final night speaker was John Bevere, and while I’ve read some of his non-fiction books, I have been enough out of touch that I did not realize he has written and is about to release a novel of suspense, Rescued. He has also produced an allegory in audio theater format titled Affabel: Window of Eternity.

I’ve talked a good deal about the value of fiction, though one of my major points is that fiction is valuable as recreation. My tendency is to recommend less explicitly theological fiction. Tommy Tenney’s book is primarily intended as a good, enjoyable story, though it is based on a Bible story and certainly has spiritual implications. Both of John Bevere’s fiction offerings are definitely in the form of explicitly Christian literature.

I’m planning to look at all of these. This is not a review, but merely my impression after listening to the authors talk about their work.

Book: Long Time Gone

This is billed as a novel of suspense, though it has a couple of pretty good mysteries embedded in the suspense. I have not read that much by J. A. Jance, but I do enjoy her style of storytelling, and I found this one a positive experience. The personal relationships are fairly tangled, but the characters are interesting and the story keeps moving.

The story is set in Seattle, and brings back an older character, J. P. Beaumont, now an investigator for the State’s Attorney. His investigation will lead him through obstruction by the Seattle Police as well as by an assortment of other characters, none of whom seem to want a 50 year old murder solved. I guessed the outcome wrong on the main murder, though I caught on to the correct villain in a second murder before the secret was revealed. I usually regard it as a good sign that I can get some things right, but not all–the book is logical, but not obvious.