Tag Archives: detective fiction

Review: Dangerous Passage, by Lisa Harris

Dangerous Passage, by Lisa Harris (Revell, 2013)Dangerous Passage, by Lisa Harris

When a second Jane Doe is found dead in Atlanta, Georgia, Detective Avery North fears she’s dealing with a serial killer. Can she find—and stop—him before another young woman dies?

As a single mom, Avery’s life is filled with work and family. She barely has time for a pedicure, so how could she add a relationship with the handsome medical examiner, Jackson Bryant? Or is she simply afraid to let herself love again?

The hunt for a serial killer uncovers a twisted net of illegal arms shipments and human trafficking. And the killer’s mind games threaten Avery’s stability. Especially when it looks like there’s a connection with the unsolved murder of her brother, an undercover officer killed in the line of duty.

I enjoyed the mystery and the action in this novel, as well as the glimpses of how Avery learns to balance work, family, faith and personal breathing space. We’re not all detectives, but most of us have more to do in our days than time to do it, and it’s good to see how other people handle this struggle.

Forgiveness is another key theme in the novel. Avery and family have lost her brother, Michael, and she blames another member of the force. There’s no proof—yet. But she can’t stop digging. Michael’s case isn’t solved in this novel, and I expect to see more of it in the next book in the Southern Crimes series.

Lisa Harris is an award-winning author of inspirational romance and suspense. She and her husband are serving as missionaries in Mozambique. For more about the author, check out her website: lisaharriswrites.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Rules of Murder, by Julianna Deering

Rules of Murder, by Julianna DeeringRules of Murder, by Juliana Deering (Bethany House, 2013)

Drew Farthering: From the tip of his black Homburg to the crease in his cheviot trousers, he’s the epitome of a stylish 1930s English gentleman. His only problem? The body he just discovered. (from the back cover)

Drew is charming, urbane, and he wants more than the party circuit that absorbs many of his peers. He and his best friend Nick (son of the family butler) enjoy mystery novels, so what better sport than to investigate this crime? Except when the second victim appears, the deaths become personal.

Madeline Parker makes a delightful third member of the sleuthing team. Newly arrived from America, she catches Drew’s heart at their first meeting. But in a house of mourning, it’s not a good time to explore their mutual attraction.

Rules of Murder has the delightful tone and setting of a Golden Age English house party murder mystery, worthy of Agatha Christie herself. It has a gentle thread of faith, as Drew begins to wonder about the God he thought he outgrew.

The title comes from Father Knox’s Decalogue: The 10 Rules of (Golden Age) Detective Fiction, regularly quoted by Nick in the novel. Drew and Nick – and author Julianna Deering – know the rules, but this case wants to break each one.

I’m not much for villains who give a full explanation at the end, although in this case I’m not sure how else readers could have had our questions answered.

Rules of Murder is a satisfying mystery novel notwithstanding, with well-developed characters, layers of meaning and splashes of humour. I’m looking forward to the next Drew Farthering Mystery.

Julianna Deering is the pen name of historical fiction novelist DeAnna Julie Dodson. Check out this excerpt from Rules of Murder (the first paragraph convinced me to settle down and enjoy this book) and the author Q&A with Julianna Deering. You can read another interview with the author at Divine Detour.

 [Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.]

Review: Pattern of Wounds, by J. Mark Bertrand

Pattern of Wounds, by J. Mark Bertrand (Bethany House, 2011)

Detective Roland March is called to a Houston murder scene that’s eerily similar to his first big case, which was sensationalized in a true crime book. That killer’s in prison, but could someone have used the photos from the book as a pattern? Even worse, is the wrong man behind bars?

March follows up on every angle, but he also trusts his instincts. In his own words:

“The thing about instinct is, you follow without knowing where it’ll take you. You can’t explain why, and along the way nothing adds up, making you look like a fool. But working homicide, looking like a fool goes with the territory. That’s the job: getting it wrong until you finally get it right.” (p. 58-59)

As the story progresses, there’s a lot of getting it wrong before March finally gets it right. He blames others for allowing their biases to blind them to what he sees, but events make him question his own blind spots.

This book grabbed me on page one and kept me reading. Author J. Mark Bertrand has a tight, satisfying delivery and uses some strong visual imagery. Here’s an example where a character’s been asked a question: “He puts the photo down and leans back, checking the ceiling like his memories are kept up there.” (p. 312)

The story is told in the first person, which works well for a detective novel, and in the present tense, which doesn’t work so well for me except in chick lit. It’s probably intended to convey immediacy, but I find it a bit disconcerting.

Pattern of Wounds is put out by a Christian publisher, but it should please any lover of detective fiction. March himself has seen too much, lost too much, to find comfort in the faith in which he was raised. His wife, Charlotte, attends church without him, and he feels like she’s growing apart from him.

This is the second Roland March mystery (the first was Back on Murder) and while you don’t have to read them in order it’s a good idea. March is a richly complex character who changes over the course of the stories. I found it easy to care about him and Charlotte and their friends. I certainly hope there’ll be a book 3.

You can read the opening chapter of Pattern of Wounds on the Bethany House site and read an interview with J. Mark Bertrand as well. For something a little different, you can read a fictional interview with the Brad Templeton, the character who wrote the true crime book based on March’s famous case, The Kingwood Killing.

For a limited time, book 1, Back on Murder, is available for free as an eBook through Christian Book Distributors and in Kindle, Nook and Kobo formats.

You can learn more about J. Mark Bertrand and his books at his website and at his blog, Crime Genre.

[Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.]