Category Archives: Mystery/Suspense

Martyr’s Fire by Sigmund Brouwer

Martyr's Fire cover artTitle: Martyr’s Fire (Book Three, Merlin’s Immortals)

Author: Sigmund Brouwer

Publisher: WaterBrook Press

Book Description:

Will this dangerous quest lead the outcast Orphan King toward an ancient secret—or to certain destruction? 

Posing as a beggar, Thomas escapes Magnus after fifteen men, who are calling themselves the Priests of the Holy Grail, arrive and take control of the castle through wondrous acts and apparent miracles. With the help of his longtime friend Gervaise, Thomas sets out on a journey that leads him to the ancient Holy Land. Unaware that Katherine and Hawkwood are watching over him, Thomas is tested in his beliefs and comes face to face with the ancient power that the Merlins and Druids have long been searching for.Enter the world of Merlin’s Immortals, where ancient secrets and evil conspiracies take you on a breathless adventure of discovery, intrigue, and hidden knowledge.

Review:

In this third book of the Merlin’s Immortals series, Thomas must face new challenges and dangers in his quest to rule and protect Magnus from the Druids. He also must take a leap of faith — a difficult task for a young man who values physical proof and things he can see. But when battling unseen enemies and trying to uncover hidden secrets, sometimes faith is all one can rely on.

Throughout the book treachery, secrets, and mysteries all lead Thomas to one big question: who can he trust? Katherine and Hawkwood face a similar dilemma. Can they trust Thomas, or is he their enemy? These questions and more circle round and round, each time drawing a little closer to an answer. Then, just when they think they know where to place their trust, something happens to make them question others’ loyalty once more.

The twists and turns in Martyr’s Fire keep the reader waiting with bated breath to discover what will happen next. Just when you think you know how events will unfold, the author throws in something that makes you question everything you thought you knew about the story. The high adventure and fast-paced action will keep you turning pages late into the night.

If you have read the first two books in the Merlin’s Immortals series, you should definitely read this book. If you haven’t started reading the series yet, you should pick up a copy of The Orphan King immediately and be prepared to read the next two books as well. This series will grab your attention, pull you into the story of Thomas and his quest for Magnus, and leave you wanting more.

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Filed under Christian, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, Mystery/Suspense, Series, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, Young Adult

Payback in Panama by Noel Hynd

Payback in Panama cover artTitle: Payback in Panama, The Cuban Trilogy: Book 3

Author: Noel Hynd

Publisher: Zondervan

Book Description:

After two attempts on her life, Alex is faced with the ultimate decision . . . kill or be killed.

U.S. Treasury Agent Alexandra LaDuca is at a crossroads. Her job is beating her up, emotionally and psychologically. And the moral battle between her faith and her responsibilities is taking its toll on her effectiveness. For the first time, she wonders how long she can last.

Forcing an end to her long-running and treacherous duel with the heads of the Dosi Cartel, Alex knows this is her last do-or-die operation. It’s time call in all the favors owed to her.

Her fight takes her into the criminal underground of America’s east coast, south into the violent underworld of Central America, across Honduras and El Salvador, and finally to Panama for a shattering confrontation.

Alex’s career, her life, and her future with the man she loves—a future she never expected after the violent death of her fiancé two years earlier—are all at stake. After a final payback in Panama, nothing will be the same . . . if she even survives.

Review:

I love fast-paced suspense novels with action that starts on the first page and doesn’t stop until the very end of the book. This isn’t one of those stories. It started off with page after page of background and info dumps about character motivation. The action picked up around chapter six or seven, and the story finally started moving forward. Then there was another large chunk of information that brought the pace of the story to a crawl. This pattern continued throughout the book, making it difficult for me to read every line without skimming to find a more exciting part. While I appreciate the amount of research the author did for this book, I wish he hadn’t included quite so much of it in the story.

The plot and characters are great and well-developed. Unfortunately, they seem over-developed at times as page after page of character motivation tells us in minute detail how they think, why they do the things they do, etc. Readers are also treated to massive amounts of information on the drug situation in Central America, the intricacies of international crime, and the complexity of financial crimes. After a while, this information begins to feel a bit repetitive. The feeling isn’t helped by the fact that much of the book is telling the story rather than showing it, which left me longing for the characters to do something in “real time” rather than having to read a summary of what they did.

That said, the story did pick up its pace in the last quarter of the book or so. The overwhelming amounts of information were absent as well. The last chapters flowed smoothly and finally allowed me as a reader to get lost in the book and turn page after page without realizing how much time had passed.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed book, this one isn’t for you. If you prefer a slow-paced, procedural-type novel with bits of action sprinkled throughout in-depth information, you’ll likely enjoy Payback in Panama.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Series, Zondervan

Afloat by Erin Healy

Afloat cover artTitle: Afloat

Author: Erin Healy

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Book Description:

Who will you trust when dark waters rise?

Eagle’s Talon is an architectural marvel—shining residential units afloat in a protected cove of the gorgeous Rondeau River. The project is nearly complete, partially occupied, and ready to make investors rich when a sinkhole gives way. Then torrential rains and a flood leave a ragged collection of builders, investors, and residents stranded in one floating building, cut off from the rest of the world.

They’re bitterly divided over what to do next.

Architect Vance Nolan insists they should sit tight and wait for rescue. Developer Tony Dean wants to strike out into the darkness. And single mom Danielle Clement, desperate to protect her young son, Simeon, struggles to hold their motley band together.

Power failure, a pall of unnatural daytime darkness, explosions in the distance, then a murder ratchet tensions to a boiling point. But Danielle’s young son, Simeon, has spotted something strange underwater—beautiful, shifting lights in the dark water below.

In this watery world where everyone’s secrets will eventually come to light, salvation may mean more than just getting out alive.

Another stunning exploration of the human spirit and supernatural possibilities from best-selling author Erin Healy.

Review:

Vance Nolan designed floating housing with the goal of providing affordable housing for the poor and homeless. Tony Dean finances the project and then turns the floating condos into an exclusive housing development for the wealthy. Danielle Clement is a single mom struggling to find her way after the death of her husband, and both Vance and Tony want her for their own. When disaster strikes the floating neighborhood of Eagle’s Talon, everybody who gets trapped by rising floodwater must set aside their differences if they want to survive.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started reading Afloat, but what I got was a complex mystery, supernatural elements, suspense, and a new way to view Psalm 119 all wrapped up in an almost apocalyptic setting. Between the eclectic cast of characters, mysterious events, and revelations about what brought several of the characters to Eagle’s Talon, the story pulled me in and made it difficult to put the book down. The plot contained so many twists and turns that I couldn’t even begin to guess what might happen next. Every time I thought things couldn’t get worse for those stranded in building 12, it did. Yet through Vance, his old friend Zeke, and Danielle’s five-year-old son Simeon, it was impossible to not hope everything would turn out all right in the end.

Ms. Healy did an amazing job of showing the battle between good and evil, as well as God’s faithfulness even in the worst situations. The contrast between selfishness and love, which creates selflessness, is artfully woven throughout the story. I particularly enjoyed the way Ms. Healy applied verses from Psalm 119 to events in the story and used them to give Vance strength when his faith struggled. If you enjoy suspense or speculative fiction, you’ll enjoy Afloat.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Speculative Fiction, Thomas Nelson, Thriller

Domination by Jon S. Lewis

Domination cover artTitle: Domination

Author: Jon S. Lewis

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Book Description:

THEIR GOAL IS SIMPLE: TOTAL DOMINATION.

With six arms and jaws that can snap a man in two, the warmongering race of aliens known as the Thule has conquered every planet they’ve attacked.

And now their invasion of Earth has begun.

Humanity’s only hope springs from a mysterious Thule legend about a Betrayer, who they believe will rise up and destroy their people. The American government tried to manufacture their own Betrayer by injecting children with Thule blood but time after time the experiment failed . . . until Colt McAlister.

A decade later, Colt is a 16-year-old cadet at the CHAOS Military Academy where he’s training to defend mankind. But he’s afraid that the alien blood may be turning him into a Thule—and he’s beginning to suspect that fulfilling his role as the Betrayer may cost him everything.

Experience a cosmic battle filled with high-tech gear, gateways to other planets, and ultimate stakes. Not everyone will survive. But heroes will rise up and step into their destiny in this earth-shaking conclusion to the C.H.A.O.S trilogy.

Review:

In this epic conclusion to the C.H.A.O.S. Trilogy, Colt McAlister is one step closer to saving Earth from an invasion of Thule. Unfortunately, the mission he and his friends have been tasked with completing if far from easy. If the practice runs in the simulator are any indication, humanity is doomed. But despite the odds stacked high against them, Colt and his friends hold onto the hope that when the time comes, they will succeed.

I loved the first two books in this trilogy, and I looked forward to reading Domination for quite some time. This book did not disappoint. As with the first two books, there is plenty of action, danger, and plot twists to keep the reader turning pages. There is also just the right amount of teenage angst as Colt faces the normal struggles of being a sixteen-year-old boy, although his challenges are made all the more difficult because the entire world is counting on him to save them from destruction.

Colt’s faith comes to the forefront in this book, shining bright through his struggles with the Thule blood running through his veins as well as wondering if he can live up to everyone’s expectations. Regardless of his doubts, he always clings to his faith in God. The verse he wears on a medallion around his neck serves as a constant reminder that God will help him, regardless of what dangers he may face.

If you haven’t read the first two books in this trilogy, I highly recommend you pick them up before reading Domination. If you have already read Invasion and Alienation, what are you waiting for? Pick up a copy of Domination now. You won’t regret it.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Genre, Mystery/Suspense, Science Fiction, Series, Thomas Nelson, Young Adult

Shattered by Dani Pettrey

Shattered cover artTitle: Shattered (Alaskan Courage Book 2)

Author: Dani Pettrey

Publisher: Bethany House

Book Description:

When her prodigal brother Reef’s return to Yancey, Alaska, is shattered by his arrest for murder, Piper McKenna is determined to protect him.

Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he’s also sworn to find the truth. And he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth puts Landon’s career in jeopardy.

When Piper launches her own investigation, Landon realizes he must protect her from herself–and whatever complications await as the two follow clues deep into Canada’s rugged backcountry. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.

Review:

Certain her brother is innocent of killing a snowboarder, despite the town’s belief to the contrary, Piper McKenna hunts for the real murderer. Her search infuriates her older brother’s best friend Landon Grainger, who happens to be a member of the town’s law enforcement. As more clues surface that Piper’s brother may be as innocent as she claims, she and Landon must find a way to work together to unravel the increasingly murky mystery surrounding the murder without becoming victims themselves.

From the very first page, Pettrey draws the readers into the suspense and drama surrounding the murder and the search to find the killer. The suspense carries throughout the book and is intertwined with traditional elements of a romance novel as Landon and Piper try to solve the mystery of their own feelings while looking for a murderer. Watching the characters follow their hearts and stumble along, all the while trying to find or cling to faith in God and each other, gave the story a sense of realism that some novels lack. No one is perfect and life is full of challenges and heartache, something this book shows beautifully.

I haven’t read the first book in this series yet, but the story was easy to follow without prior knowledge of the McKenna family or the events in the previous book. At first the sheer number of characters was a bit overwhelming, but I quickly became acquainted with them and was easily able to keep track of who they were and how they were connected to each other. Many of the McKenna siblings, as well as Landon, seemed to feel the need to always be in charge, which created stumbling blocks when they needed to work together, but I was impressed with the growth shown by all of the characters by the end of the story.

Overall, this is an amazing book that I found difficult to put down. The way the author balanced the suspense and the romance while setting up for the next book in the series impressed me and left me wanting to read more of her work. If you’re a fan of romantic suspense novels, you’ll love this book.

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Filed under Bethany House Publishers, Christian, Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Romance, Series

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Against the Tide cover artTitle: Against the Tide

Author: Elizabeth Camden

Publisher: Bethany House

Book Description:

After a childhood rampant with uncertainty, Lydia Pallas has carved out a perfect life for herself. She spends her days within sight of the bustling Boston Harbor, where her skill with languages has landed her an enviable position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

Lydia’s talents bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man in need of a translator. Driven by a campaign to end the opium trade, Bane is coolly analytical and relentless in his quest. He cannot afford to fall for Lydia and must fight the bittersweet love growing between them.

When Bane’s enemies gain the upper hand, he is forced to turn to Lydia for help. Determined to prove her worth, Lydia soon discovers that carrying out Bane’s mission will test her wits and her courage to the very limits.

When forces conspire against them from without and within, can their love survive?

Review:

Set in Boston in the early 1890s, Against the Tide deals with the problems of opium smuggling, the use of opium in popular cure-alls, and the difficulties facing women in need of employment. The story is told in a manner that makes it easy to relate to the characters and the challenges they face. Ms. Camden’s vibrant writing draws the reader into the story and brings the characters to life. Although I loved the book and the characters, at times it felt like I was reading a contemporary story set at the end of the nineteenth century. The book didn’t have the historical feel that I’m used to in historical novels, but that was a minor issue that didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the story. The characters and the plot, as well as Ms. Camden’s vivid writing style, made it easy to get lost in the pages of this book.

If you enjoy novels with tumultuous romance, danger, and faith, I recommend reading Against the Tide. Be prepared to stay up late because if you’re like me, once you start reading you’ll find the book impossible to put down.

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Filed under Bethany House Publishers, Christian, Fiction, Historical, Mystery/Suspense, Romance

The Trouble With Charlie by Catherine Bennett

The Trouble With Charlie cover artTitle: The Trouble with Charlie

Author: Catherine Bennett

Publisher: Astraea Press

Book Description:

Love. Desire. A psycho bent on revenge. But can Charlie Reynolds recognize the most dangerous of the three?

Since being out on her own at eighteen, Charlotte “Charlie” Reynolds is a street-smart “good” girl who hides her desire for love and security behind her feisty and independent personality. She just never expected a more noxious hero than wealthy, self-consumed Evan Gardner, the CEO and founder of Valley Tech., a successful software company in Los Angeles. From the moment Evan rescues her from an apparent random attack, their attraction for each other bubbles just below the surface of all-out passion.

Review:

Charlie Reynolds is a woman from the poor side of town. Evan Gardner lives in an exclusive neighborhood and owns a software company. They meet when Charlie is attacked during her usual morning run through Evan’s neighborhood. After learning about her circumstances, he offers her a job as au pair for his eight-year-old daughter, Abigail. Charlie realizes it’s an offer she can’t refuse. What follows is an unlikely, reluctant romance between two stubborn hearts. Can Evan and Charlie overcome their prejudices and past hurts in order to make a relationship work?

Although touted as a romantic suspense, The Trouble With Charlie seems more like a romance with some suspense. There are a few incidents that endanger Charlie, but the fear and apprehension each causes is soon lost in the tempestuous relationship between Charlie and Evan. The development of that relationship is an adventure in itself, and poor versus rich prejudices rear their heads quite often. The advice and opinions of friends on both sides only serve to fan the flames of conflict between Evan and Charlie in a way that is vaguely reminiscent of the movie Pretty in Pink.

Despite the on again, off again  progress made by both Evan and Charlie toward letting go of preconceived notions and accepting their attraction to each other, two of the main driving forces that consistently bring them together are anger and frustration. Nearly every argument ends in a kiss and/or a realization of how much they care about each other—a realization both tend to keep to themselves instead of sharing and easing the angst between them.

One character, however, experiences consistent growth—Evan’s daughter, Abigail. The child thrives under Charlie’s care, and Abigail’s relationship with her father steadily improves. Abigail is also a unifying factor in Evan and Charlie’s relationship since both love her and want the best for her.

If you are a fan of tumultuous romance with just enough suspense to make you wonder who the villain could be, I recommend The Trouble With Charlie.

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Filed under Astraea Press, Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Romance