Friday, March 29, 2013

Stress Test by Richard Mabry

They may not have enough evidence to convict him, but they have enough to ruin his life.

Dr. Matt Newman thought he was leaving his life in private practice for a better one in academic medicine. But the kidnappers who attacked him as he left his last shift in the ER have no such plans—they just want him dead. Bound and in the trunk of his car, Matt's only thought is escape. He does so, but at a price: a head injury that lands him in the ICU . . . where he awakens to discover he's being charged with murder.

Sandra Murray is a fiery, redheaded lawyer who swore she was done with doctors. But when Matt calls, she knows she can't walk away from defending someone who is truly innocent.

Matt's career is going down the drain. His freedom and perhaps his life may be next. But with the police convinced he's a murderer and the kidnappers still trying to finish what they started, finding the truth—and the faith to keep going—will be the toughest stress test Matt has ever endured.

My Review:
Poor Dr. Newman. He can't "catch a break." He's kidnapped, escapes, only to find himself in the hospital with a serious head injury. He loses his job, his girl friend, the police think he's a murderer, and someone wants him dead! Thankfully, he latches on to a good attorney--a pretty one too. That bit of romance plus the fact that he slowly rediscovers God makes for a good story.

I especially liked reading about how Matt tries and tries again to restart his life. The medical aspects as well as the aspects of the law were well told.

There are some times I held my breath as I read. I usually read quietly, but once, I exclaimed out loud, "Oh!" when I saw what just happened. I did manage to guess the ending; however, I enjoyed this book. The final pages felt a bit rushed, but overall, a really good read.

Thank you to Booksneeze and Thomas Nelson Publisher for my copy.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Survivor (Crime Scene: Houston) by DiAnn Mills

Crime Scene: Houston

Kariss meets Dr. Amy Garrett, who survived a brutal childhood attack in which the assailant was never found. Now Dr. Garrett wants her story written in a novel.

Kariss wishes she could seek the advice of Special Agent Tigo Harris, but she broke off the relationship a few months prior and seeing him again would be too painful. She interviews Amy and conducts her own research, stepping unaware into a viper's pit of danger.

Tigo misses Kariss and wants her back, but he understands why she broke off their relationship. Instead, he concentrates on solving a car bombing and bringing the killer to justice.

As Kariss's new story attracts an onslaught of danger that she never expected, can Tigo save the woman he loves and find who wants her dead for writing about an unsolved cold-case?

My Review:

Protagonist, Kariss Walker, writes suspense novels based on cold cases. Amy Garrett, a childhood survivor of violence, wants her story told as if a work of fiction with the hope of drawing out the perpetrator and thereby solving the crime. As soon as the ladies agree on the project, horrible things begin to happen to Kariss.

I enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with Tigo, the handsome FBI Agent and Kariss' love interest. He holds Buzz Lightyear in high regard. (It's things like this that make a character come to life.) Tigo struggles with his faith in God, and because Kariss does not want to be unevenly yolked, she decides to stop the romance. The story opens as they've not seen one another for two months. The reader cannot help but root for Tigo to find God, accept Christ, and restore his relationship with Kariss.

Some cons: Amy is losing her hearing and doesn't like using the telephone; yet it seems, she's always on the phone! Amy's brother proves to be a distraction--at least for me. The undercover work should have been left out.

This work is a sequel to The Chase, and I suggest you read them in order.

Discussion questions are included.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Zondervan for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Memory of Murder by Ramona Richards

The secrets of her past could imperil her future

Lindsey Presley certainly can't imagine why anyone would want her dead—though she knows she wouldn't be alive today if not for the local cop who saved her from two murder attempts. 

Deputy Jeff Gage has worked difficult cases, but with only Lindsey's fractured memories of a broken past to guide him, this is by far his most challenging. For Lindsey, fleeing the town she has come to call home is unthinkable. 

Separately, they are vulnerable, but together, Jeff and Lindsey just may stand a chance of catching a ruthless killer.

My Review:
Memories from her abusive childhood stay deeply buried. Lindsey remembers only fragments. However, someone wants her dead and keeps trying to kill her. Fortunately for Lindsay, Deputy Gage remains determined to protect her.

Violence abounds right up to the conclusion. Although the book is small, the adventure is large.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Love Inspired Suspense for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne

For as long as Halley Steen has known her husband Nathan, he has carried a handful of stones in his pocket. Each day he uses those stones to remind him to follow the Golden Rule, moving a stone from one pocket to the other with each act of kindness. So it's not unusual that Nathan stops to help a stranger on the side of the highway while on his way to his son's football game one Friday evening. But that one act will change all of their lives forever, when a car hydroplanes off the road, killing Nathan instantly.

As Halley and her children Ty and Alice struggle with their grief, Nathan's spiritual legacy lives on. A Facebook page appears, where countless stories about Nathan's selfless acts are shared. But among them is one that stands out, from a woman who says that Nathan saved her life. Neither Halley nor her children have ever heard of Madeline Zuckerman. But soon Halley discovers years of e-mails from this woman to her husband on his computer that refer to "our little girl." How could her husband have kept the secret of this other child for their entire marriage? Why had he lied to her? Was he not the man she thought he was?

Only thirteen-year-old Alice maintains unwavering faith in her father. She knows there's an explanation. When she sets out to find Madeline and learn the truth, she will start to unravel the complex story of The One Good Thing Nathan Steen did that had the greatest impact of all.

My Review:
What a good read! I heartily recommend this one.

Stellar writing helps the plot to flow. Realistic dialogue for each character.Twists and turns continue to surprise. Although the main character, Nathan Steen, dies early on, this is far from a depressing tale; instead, it is one filled with hope. A Facebook page is created that allows those touched by Nathan to comment about his many acts of kindness. Various characters tell their perspective of the story.

Two themes are woven throughout: bullying and family secrets.

Although this can be labeled Christian fiction, there is little religion in it. 

Reading group guide inside.

Thank you to Sarah Reck at Hachette Book Group and Center Street for my copy.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Strands of Deception by Robin Caroll

A Justice Seekers Novel

When Gina Ford, the daughter of a prominent Tennessee politician, goes missing from the University of Memphis a week after another girl was murdered on the same campus, police call in the FBI. Nick Hagar, married to his job as Special Agent in Charge, is assigned to the case, and when Gina’s body is found, her father demands justice.

Maddie Baxter is the forensic expert running DNA tests from the crime scene. When they come back without a match, Nick asks her to do a familial DNA run that yields a shocking result: the prime suspect is Adam Alexander, the very same guy who broke Maddie’s heart when she was in college.

But do scientific advancements tell the whole story? Strand of Deception offers romance, suspense, and a lively debate about the impact of DNA testing, for better or worse, on the United States justice system.

My Review:
This Christian fiction is the third in the Justice Seekers series, but it's a stand alone work. I received my copy Monday afternoon and had it finished by Wednesday evening. It's a real page-turner.

I like the two main characters: Nick Hagar and Maddie Baxter--who become romantically connected.  They both share tragedy in their past lives: Nick's brother died while serving overseas with the Marines, and Maddie's parents were killed by a drunken driver. This causes Nick to doubt God, while Maddie leans on Christ.

Nick's hard work at finding and following leads has the reader jumping from one conclusion to another. "Science doesn't lie" is the motto that Maddie lives by, as she manages the DNA testing. Their struggles of work on a murder case makes for some interesting and complex issues.

Maddie, a super fan of Elvis and his music, creates a lighter theme that runs throughout the novel. As a long-time lover of Elvis, I really enjoyed the references!

Discussion questions included.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and B&H Books for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.