Tag Archives: Terri Blackstock

Review: Smoke Screen, by Terri Blackstock

Smoke Screen, by Terri Blackstock

Smoke Screen, by Terri Blackstock (Thomas Nelson, 2019)

In Smoke Screen, Terri Blackstock gives us a novel of second chances, romance, faith—and mystery. It’s not a high-suspense story, but the emotional tension will keep readers turning pages.

Nate’s father has spent 14 years in prison for the murder of Brenna’s father, all the while claiming he’s innocent. If he is, then there’s a killer in town. Nate himself, now a smoke jumping firefighter, is thought by many to be responsible for burning down the dead man’s church. Even his father thinks he did it—but he didn’t. So who did?

Brenna and Nate were childhood sweethearts until tragedy scarred both their families. Now Brenna’s in a losing battle for custody of her kids after her husband left her for a younger woman. Her children are her life. When they’re gone on the weekend, not even alcohol can numb the pain.

What I appreciated most about the story is the compassionate and honest portrayal of a Christian struggling with drinking. It happens, and as in Brenna’s case, the faith aspect can increase the shame and guilt. I hope her example can bring hope to others who fight this battle in real life.

For more about the book and about New York Times bestselling author Terri Blackstock, visit terriblackstock.com.

[I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.]

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Review: If I Run, by Terri Blackstock

If I Run, by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan, 2016) If I Run, by Terri Blackstock | Christian suspense

What if you found your best friend murdered, but you couldn’t trust the police? The police force let Casey Cox down last time, so she flees. If they catch her, they’ll arrest her for her friend’s death – or worse.

If I Run is the story of Casey trying to stay out of sight long enough to find the courage (and a plan) to prove her innocence. And it’s the story of Dylan Roberts, a PTSD-suffering veteran who was a friend of the dead man and who’s now hired to find her.

To find her, he needs to learn how she thinks. Problem is, the more he learns, the more he doubts that Casey would commit a crime like this. Meanwhile, Casey’s caring heart draws her into fresh danger.

Told in the first person, present tense, chapters are clearly marked so we know if we’re going to be in Casey’s or Dylan’s point of view. If I Run is a refreshing suspense novel, and one of the best I’ve read in a while.

Casey’s not a person of faith, although the more trouble she’s in, the more she asks God for help and hopes He’s there. The evil she’s seen has left her unwilling to believe, and when she meets Christians who also carry pain, she’s intrigued by how they’ve let it deepen their faith.

The only warning I’ll give is that If I Run is book 1 in a series. Don’t expect everything to be wrapped up with a pretty bow at the end (this instalment’s plot does resolve). Do expect to want to read book 2.

Terri Blackstock is a multi-award-winning, NY Times bestselling author of Christian suspense fiction, and she knows how to craft a page-turner. For more about the author and her books, visit terriblackstock.com.

[Review copy from the public library.]

Review: Intervention, by Terri Blackstock

Intervention, by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan, 2009)

Single mother Barbara Covington has tried everything to get her teen daughter Emily off drugs. Now she’s sunk a fortune into a last-chance effort with a professional interventionist. But when the interventionist is murdered, Emily disappears—and becomes the prime suspect.

Barbara and her 14-year-old son Lance believe Emily is innocent. Not trusting detective Kent Harlan to have Emily’s best interests at heart, Barbara chases down half-seen clues, putting her own life in danger and potentially compromising the investigation.

Now Kent has to divide his attention between finding the missing girl and keeping her mother safe.

Bestselling author Terri Blackstock always delivers a page-turning read. Intervention begins as a straightforward missing-person mystery. When readers finally meet the antagonist, he’s a different kind of villain: real and dangerous, but not a creepy psycho. The suspense is strong, and the story satisfies. It also gives readers a better understanding and compassion for addicts and their families.

Published in 2009, Intervention is the first in a series of addiction-related suspense novels. The sequel, Vicious Cycle, is available now.

There’s an interesting interview with Terri Blackstock that opens with the video trailer for Intervention and shares the personal story that prompted the novel. It’s about ten minutes long. If you don’t have time for that right now, here’s the video trailer to Intervention. Or click here to read a sample of Intervention.

Review: Double Minds by Terri Blackstock

Double MindsDouble Minds, by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan, 2009)

Parker James is a Christian songwriter who performs when she can and works reception at a recording studio in Nashville. When another receptionist is murdered on the job, her brother is one of the detectives called to the scene. Trouble is, Parker helped him study for his exams and she seems to remember better than he what needs doing.

As well as dealing with the emotional fallout of her co-worker’s death, Parker faces pressure to rewrite her latest worship songs as love songs. Long-time friend Serene has gained so much attention singing Parker’s songs that she’s been approached by a mainstream recording executive.

I like how author Terri Blackstock shows Parker’s conflict over this issue. While on the one hand it’s fine for Parker to be a songwriter who’s Christian—even if she writes mainstream lyrics—on the other hand, the songs she’s been asked to “tone down” were written as acts of worship. Would changing them be selling out?

Theft and a second murder raise the suspense even higher, until it comes to a satisfying and unexpected conclusion. Parker also finds perspective on her song-writing and performance abilities, although I was disappointed not to see an epilogue of where the future would take her.

Double Minds gives readers an interesting insider view of the Nashville music industry. Parker is a genuinely likeable young woman. She and the other characters feel like real people, with interesting quirks and backgrounds.

One of the things I always appreciate about Terri Blackstock’s writing is her honesty about Christians. Double Minds is no exception. Within this fictional Christian recording community, we see believers like Parker who do their best to live as they think Jesus wants them to live. We see characters like Serene and Pete who each know Jesus at some level but are still in bondage (anorexia and alcoholism). And we see others who fall under the “Christian” banner but may have little or no interest in living to please God.

Instead of setting them up for judgement, Terri Blackstock presents them as they are and lets them fall or grow according to their own choices. She treats each character with truth and compassion.

The book’s final pages offer discussion questions about Double Minds, as well as the opening chapter of the author’s next novel, Intervention, releasing September 2009. Looks like another good one!

Review: Dawn’s Light, by Terri Blackstock

dawns-lightA while ago I left a comment on the Mainly Mystery Reviews blog and won a copy of Terri Blackstock’s recent novel, Dawn’s Light. I’d already read the first three books in the Restoration series, but for some reason hadn’t gotten to this one. What a treat to win it!

I enjoy Terri Blackstock’s novels because of her mix of page-turning suspense and realistic characters who struggle with their faith when life gets messy.

As befits the final novel in a series, Dawn’s Light puts the Branning family in their most agonizing circumstances yet while still delivering a satisfying and believable ending. Fans of the series won’t want to miss Dawn’s Light, and newcomers can jump right in and enjoy it too.

Thank you to Terri Blackstock and Mainly Mystery Reviews for my copy of the novel!