Friday, September 22, 2017

The Dark Heart (Dinah Harris Mystery #4)

Title:  The Dark Heart (Dinah Harris Mystery #4)

Author:  Julie Cave

Pages:  276

Year:  2017

Publisher:  Master Books

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

Dinah Harris is visiting an old FBI friend, Elise Jones, who is now a detective in a small town.  While in town, a body of a junkie is discovered.  She has been strangled, but evidence is also found that she might not be who everyone thought she was.  Dinah acts as a consultant on the case with Elise heading up the investigation.  The many hours of leg work, phone calls and research begin to find the culprit.  Evidence leads to the local town pastor as having had contact with the drug addict.  Dinah soon discovers he had known the addict while he was in college 20 years before.  Then, another woman’s body is also found strangled.  She had worked a series of temporary jobs, but was known to move around a lot and not settle down.  She, too, was also known to the pastor from his college days.  She has multiple passports and social security numbers just like those found in the addict’s apartment.  What do these three people have in common?

While Dinah and Elise work long hours to gather information and question potential witnesses or culprits, Elise’s 15-year-old daughter is in her sophomore year in school.  She is a good student, but most of the other kids think she is a nerd.  Her best friend and only friend is the local pastor’s daughter.  As Elise continues to question the pastor as she thinks he is hiding something, the friendship between her daughter and his daughter shows signs of tension.  Stretched to the breaking point, the friendship snaps.  Now, Chloe is truly alone and doesn’t know where to turn.

This is not just a murder mystery, but a powerful story about racial injustice and bullying.  These are two terrible acts that are prevalent in our society today.  The bullies in the story are extremely cruel and hateful to someone who is different.  They commit a terrible crime that has devastating results.  The perpetrators of racial injustice in the past are now reaping the consequences of their actions with some dying while another faces the past.  The author does a masterful job of storytelling that drew me in to the tale immediately and pulled my heartstrings with Chloe’s story.  This is a book that plunges to deep depths of sorrow for some and regret for others.  There is hope in the end, but at a high cost.  I got completely involved in the story, letting my emotions ride along with those of some of the characters in the story.  I look forward to Dinah’s next mystery!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bringing Maggie Home

Title:  Bringing Maggie Home

Author:  Kim Vogel Sawyer

Pages:  337 (ARC)

Year:  2017

Publisher:  Waterbrook

My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.

This is one of those novels that tells a story through flashes of memories in the past with a return to the present day.  The three main characters are Hazel, Margaret Diane, and Meghan.  They are three generations of family.  Hazel is the grandmother, Diane her daughter and Meghan her granddaughter.  Every summer Meghan would spend several weeks with her grandmother, but now that she is a grown woman she hasn’t seen her for a few years.  Due to a car accident in which Meghan broke her ankle and needs to take time off from work to recuperate, so she decides to spend the time with her grandmother.  When she arrives at her grandmother’s door, she is surprised (not happily) to find her mother there with her four dogs!  Diane and Hazel have a very contentious relationship.  They love each other, but they don’t get along.  Their arguments put Meghan in the middle, feeling like she must choose a side.  She is not looking forward to her weeks of recovery with both in the same small house.

As a gift for her grandmother’s eightieth birthday, Meghan wants to put together a scrapbook of Hazel’s life, including Diane and Meghan.  She discovers some old photos that bring to light painful, but bittersweet memories for Hazel.  A traumatic event from her past has shaped her whole life and that of her relationship with Diane.  This in turn affected how as a single mother Diane raised Meghan.  The ripple effect of trauma is evident, but Hazel has God in her life.  Does she really trust Him?  Diane has rebelled against just about everything her mother imparted to her growing up, so she is far from God.  Meghan listens to her grandmother talk about God and wants to know more.  In the midst of the personal turmoil each woman is feeling, the past makes itself known.  What will each do with it?

The dynamics of the relationship between these three women was interesting to read about.  Meghan job as a cold case detective is perfect for what her grandmother has experienced.  Hazel has an intense desire to find the truth and Meghan longs to help her beloved grandmother find peace.  Hazel longs for healed relationship with her daughter and for them both to know the Lord.  The emotions are heartfelt and the characters easy to get involved with.  This was a different type of story than I’ve read from this author in the past as I’m fond of her historical romances.  I liked reading about how one event affected the lives of so many people and their reactions to it.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Blown Away (Curl Up & Dye Mystery #2)

Title:  Blown Away (Curl Up & Dye Mystery #2)

Author:  Nancy Mehl

Pages:  256

Year:  2011

Publisher:  Barbour Publishing

My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.

Hilde Higgins and her boyfriend Adam are due to attend the funeral of one of Adam’s friends from their ministry Clowns for Christ who was accidentally electrocuted while working on a house.  The members of the troupe are attending in full dress as clowns.  Adam asks Hilde to stop by the gravesite before the service to make sure the deceased member’s clown hat is atop the gravestone.  What Hilde discovers is not a hat at the head of the grave, but another dead body in the hole for the grave!  As information is gathered about the crime, Adam becomes the prime suspect.

Hilde and her next-door neighbor, Gabe, are determined to clear Adam’s name.  Along the way, Hilde must come to terms with her feelings of abandonment by her father as it is causing her some doubts about Adam.  Hilde also has her best friend wanting to attend church with Hilde for the first time and perhaps opening the door to allow Christ in her life.  Gabe also has a mysterious man looking for him and Hilde just knows Gabe is hiding under a secret identity and will be forced to leave to avoid discovery.  Gabe won’t talk about his past, which leaves Hilde wondering about his future.  Plus, with the information she and Gabe have gathered, she begins to wonder if the first clown death was truly an accident and who could be responsible for the deaths of two clowns.

I really like the hometown feel of these mysteries.  When disaster strikes, the small town of Eden bands together to help one another.  I also like the witty dialogue between Hilde and Adam, as well as Gabe’s godly advice.  That is so needed and special for Hilde, whose own father left her life at a young age to run off with a young woman.  Hilde lives her faith, which is evident to her best friend Paula who has not had the best of Christian examples in her judgmental parents who claim to be Christians.  Hilde knows Paula needs Jesus and Hilde patiently waits for Paula to come to Him.  The mystery is interesting and will keep readers’ attention.  Grab a copy of a good, solid, Christian mystery and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Thunder in the Morning Calm (Pacific Rim Series #1)

Title:  Thunder in the Morning Calm (Pacific Rim Series #1)

Author:  Don Brown

Pages:  330

Year:  2011

Publisher:  Zondervan

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

Wow, what a thrilling story!  The setting is modern era Korea, both North and South.  There have been rumors circulating that the North Koreans have a prison camp where they are still holding American servicemen from the Korean War.  These prisoners have been held captive for sixty years!  If the rumors are true, then Commander Christianson “Gunner” McCormick plans to rescue them no matter the cost.

Gunner comes from a wealthy family, but he doesn’t flaunt that and is a member of the U.S. Naval Intelligence branch of the service.  His U.S. Marine grandfather went missing during the Korean War, leaving a hole in the life of his mother as she was only five years old when he disappeared.  He is presumed dead, but in his memory Gunner vows to rescue these captive servicemen.  His mother taught him to memorize Scripture every night while growing up, and the one that sticks in his mind while he is deciding whether to pursue this extremely dangerous rescue mission into Communist North Korea is “Do what is right,” from Deuteronomy.  Gunner is risking his naval career as this mission is not sanctioned by the military, lots of money, as well as his life.  He recruits two retired servicemen, one from the U.S. Army and the other from the South Korean military, to help him in this mission.  All the men know that their odds of success are slim at best, but are willing to “leave no man behind”.

Gunner asks for thirty days leave from his assignment aboard the U.S.S. Harry Truman to begin his mission.  While he is gone, his ship engages in practice maneuvers with their South Korean allies.  Missiles get launched, attacks by North Korea, then retaliation from the U.S. cranks up the tension.  Another portion of the story tells about the prisoner camp and the cruelty and brutality of the North Korean soldiers.  When one captive falls ill, they find help from an unexpected source only for the source to be captured and sentenced to execution.  This is the world Gunner and two companions must enter.

I couldn’t put this book down!  The various threads of the story all had their own set of players with tension and danger galore.  The bravery, courage and strength of the U. S. servicemen was inspiring.  Gunner and Keith, both held to their faith in the most trying of circumstances.  God certainly answered the prayers of Margaret, Gunner’s mother, in a big way!  The characters were easy to get to know and connect with, so the story was a quick read for me.  I can’t wait to read book two in the series, Fire of the Raging Dragon.  This is one not to miss, so grab a copy for yourself and a friend!