Saturday, September 5, 2009

Book Review - "Breach of Trust" by DiAnn Mills

When DiAnn Mills takes on the CIA as a subject, her promise to “Expect an Adventure” takes on a completely new dimension.

In “Breach of Trust,” Mills recounts the story of Mikaela Olsson, survivor of a failed CIA mission. She has left the CIA, her old identity and the world she knew. Now a small town librarian known as Paige Rogers, she is trying to build a new life and protect those she left behind.

When the man responsible for the betrayal of that last mission inserts himself back into her life, Paige faces danger and decisions. Can she stay out of his clutches long enough to reveal the truth about the mission and free all concerned from the past?

Mills is a skilled storyteller. Her attention to detail and descriptive artistry make her stories rich and elegant. In “Breach of Trust,” she pulls us into a world of fear and deceit and allows us to follow Paige as she struggles for redemption.

This is a gritty story, and Mills does not shy from the ugly things humans can do to each other. Her story is not vulgar or bawdy, but is ruggedly honest. Paige acknowledges her mistakes and faces the consequences with dignity and concern for others.

Some may find it unlikely that a novel by an acknowledged Christian writer could subjects like out-of-wedlock birth and political intrigue. Once you’ve read “Breach of Trust,” you will understand how beautifully it can be done.

Mills indicates that "Breach of Trust" is the first novel in a new series - "Call of Duty." Keep your eyes open for the next episode.

“Breach of Trust”
by DiAnn Mills
Published by Tyndale House
ISBN: 978-1-4143-2047-2

Book review - "Dogwood" by Chris Fabry

From the author of “77 Habits of Ineffective Christians,” “Spiritually Correct Bedtime Stories” and co-author (with Jerry Jenkins) of juvenile adventure fiction comes an intensely adult novel set in the hills of West Virginia. Christian radio host Chris Fabry steps up to a new level with his writing in “Dogwood.”

Fabry is a son of West Virginia and his roots show clearly, as he describes a small town beset by tragedy. Dogwood lost two of its youngsters in an automobile accident years ago. The event has shaped the town and its people.

The man who served prison time for the accident has returned to town, seeking his lost love. Although Karin has married someone else and has a family, Will Hatfield has never stopped loving her.

With smooth narration and clean shifts in perspective, Fabry introduces a wounded town and its anguished inhabitants. Young Danny Boyd, who lost his sisters in the accident, helps to lead the characters through the maze of memories and emotions. Elderly Ruthie Bowles helps to ask the questions necessary to solve the puzzles of the past.

For those familiar with Fabry’s lighthearted books on Christian living, “Dogwood” will be a bit of a shock at first. Don’t be afraid to dive in. Although the tone is different, the skills Fabry brought to his previous works shine through in “Dogwood.” He has a gift for description and an insight into the human psyche that serves him well as a storyteller.

“Dogwood” is touching and uplifting. For those interested in a study subject, Fabry has included reader group and study questions. Check out “Dogwood” if you want a good read with an underlying spiritual message.

By Chris Fabry
Published by Tyndale Fiction
ISBN-13: 978-1-4143-1955-1

Book Review - "Blood Bayou" by Karen Young

Calling all lovers of tense mystery – “Blood Bayou” is a wonderful way to get your adventure fix while immersing yourself in the atmosphere of Louisiana’s bayou country. Author Karen Young has crafted a story of old wounds and new beginnings, with enough close calls to satisfy the biggest literary thrill seeker.

Camille Vermillion has sought redemption for her troubled past by working as the head of the Truth Project, a legal team investigating the cases of wrongfully convicted death row prisoners. Her ex-husband Jack has traded his briefcase for a pulpit, pastoring a small church in the town of Blood Bayou. Both are scarred by their mutual past and tiptoeing around their still simmering desire for each other.

When murder claims Jack’s sister , the evidence seems to point to a man recently released from prison by Camille’s work. Can Camille clear the man a second time? Can she and Jack escape the pain of the past to build a future? Will the two of them survive the investigation of Jack’s sister’s death?

Young, a bestselling secular author, makes her first attempt into Christian fiction with “Blood Bayou.” She succeeds admirably with a tight story of human frailty and the renewal of forgiveness. Although Jack Vermillion is a pastor, there is no preaching in the way of the action.

Buckle in for a high-speed ride through the Louisiana countryside when you open “Blood Bayou.” You will find enough suspects to fill a cellblock and enough drama to set your heart racing. “Blood Bayou” is a powerful story, well told.

“Blood Bayou”
By Karen Young
Published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-8750-7

© 2009 Mary Beth Magee

"Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon" by Debbie Fuller Thomas

Mother love is a powerful force, even when misdirected. For Marty Winslow, the death of her beloved middle daughter is a severe blow. The cause of death, a genetic disease, is the catalyst for a second blow – the child was not hers.

Two baby girls, switched at birth, are the seeds from which “Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon” sprouts. The relationship between Marty and Andie, the child she actually bore, is the bud on the vine.

Debbie Fuller Thomas switches between the perspectives of mother and daughter with deceptive ease, true to each persona yet neatly meshing the story. Against the backdrop of the Blue Moon Drive In, we see the heartache and angst of strangers trying to get to know each other. The relationship between mother and thirteen-year-old daughter is a difficult one at best. Without the foundation of familiarity and love, it takes on new dimensions.

Tuesday night is Family Night at the Blue Moon. Marty’s father owns the aging drive in. The theater is as much a character in the story as the family members who operate it. Andie learns about her new family as she joins them on the ticket line and behind the snack counter.

“Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon” is not a high-powered adventure novel. Instead, it is a thoughtful exploration of emotions and what makes a family, an identity. As Thomas’ debut novel, it sets a high standard for her next offering.

Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon
By Debbie Fuller Thomas
Published by Moody Publishers
ISBN – 13: 978-0-8024-8733-9

© 2009 Mary Beth Magee