J. Mark Bertrand
Bethany House Publishers, 2010
As I read the narration, I kept trying to figure out why the flavor felt so oddly removed. Halfway through it hit me: not a single cop, drug dealer, or other character had uttered a swear word. The clean flavor of the novel makes it more restful reading but admittedly decreases the realism (I have a feeling that when hardened, cynical cops are expressing rage, they use epithets instead of confining themselves to good English). Violence and gore are also minimized.
The plot moves forward at a satisfying pace and is well-constructed. The characters are astonishingly well drawn for a “Christian” novel—they are believable and avoid expressing themselves in clichés. The protagonist himself is essentially agnostic and angry with God, but he interacts with a variety of Christian characters who struggle with realistic internal conflicts of their own. I am impressed by the author’s choice to write a mainstream series in which Christianity is portrayed but not used as a band aid to solve all of the characters’ problems. The ending of the mystery was not as strong as I hoped, but overall the book was an interesting and enjoyable read. It’s well worth picking up if you are looking for a bit of clean, light fiction.