Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand
Release Date: July 1, 2010
Author: Website | Twitter
Pages/Format: 384 (Paperback)
Genre: Christian Fiction, Crime/Mystery
Source: Public Library
My Rating: A+ (View Scale)
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Detective Roland March is a homicide cop on his way out. But when he’s the only one at a crime scene to find evidence of a missing female victim, he’s given one last chance to prove himself. Before he can crack the case, he’s transferred to a new one that has grabbed the spotlight–the disappearance of a famous Houston evangelist’s teen daughter.
With the help of a youth pastor with a guilty conscience who navigates the world of church and faith, March is determined to find the missing girls while proving he’s still one of Houston’s best detectives.
Back on Murder is the best mystery I’ve read in years. The characters are well developed, the plot is enthralling, and the writing is gritty and realistic. My first thought after finishing it was, “Now that is Christian fiction at its best!”
All of the characters are very believable. The protagonist, Detective Roland March, is thoroughly human, his flaws and frailty plainly presented. Oftentimes in CBA novels where the main character is an unbeliever, the author will make the Christian characters to look too perfect. Bertrand avoids this and lays bare the faults of his Christian characters as well, which I appreciated.
I absolutely loved this book and I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series, Pattern of Wounds.
About J. Mark Bertrand:
J. Mark Bertrand is the author of the three crime novels featuring Houston homicide detective Roland March. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston and now lives in South Dakota with his wife Laurie.
Falls Like Lightning by Shawn Grady
Smokejumper Silas Kent never expected to see pilot Elle Westmore again. In fact, reuniting makes him realize what a mistake he made all those years ago. But before he has a chance to try to make amends, he’s called to lead a new crew into battle against a massive fire in the Sierra Nevadas.
And then things go very wrong, very quickly. A suspicious engine explosion forces the crew to parachute early while Elle barely survives a crash landing. Silas reaches the ground safely, but in beginning a desperate race to reach the downed plane, he soon realizes he has more to fear than just a raging forest fire.
Falls Like Lightning is a fast-paced, action-packed read with a little mystery and romance thrown in to shake things up. I am a huge mystery buff, so that was my favorite aspect of the story. The relationship between Elle and Silas was not as well developed as I would have liked. I am more drawn toward character-centered stories and I felt like this book was more action-oriented.
There is a fair amount of technical jargon related to smokejumping which readers will have to adapt to. I didn’t feel like this bogged me down too much while reading, and it was interesting to learn about a profession which I knew nothing about. Grady is able to write with authority and authenticity on this subject because he was a firefighter himself.
Falls Like Lightning was an entertaining read and it took me no time to fly through it, but the underemphasis on character development ultimately makes it pretty forgettable.
About Shawn Grady:
Shawn Grady has served for over a decade as a firefighter and paramedic in Reno, Nevada, where he lives with his wife and three children. He is the author of Through the Fire (2009) and Tomorrow We Die (2010).
Other Reviews: God with Us: Finding Joy