Thursday, February 11, 2016

Christian Suspense

After the last time that I read a Christian historical romance, I really wondered where I should turn for light reading.  Admittedly, I often read so that I can turn off my brain.  It just doesn't like to stop!  So, I decided to read a Christian suspense novel.  I have found there are two veins of these books.  One heads off in a darker direction--like Erin Healy, Ted Dekker, and ND Wilson's novels.  The other direction is the crime drama type-- written by authors like Lynette Eason, Terri Blackstock, and Irene Hannon.  I've enjoyed Erin Healy's novels over the years.  She's a good writer and builds suspense in a way that draws me in as the reader.  A few years ago, I read books by Lynette Eason and Irene Hannon.  

But, I stopped.  I was faced with the question of whether it was okay to be intrigued by crime.  These questions have come up again from my daughters as they've been asking what's okay for them to read and what isn't.  So, I've needed to ponder and digest this question.  What is it that I'm intrigued by? When I read, am I focusing on the crime--or am I focusing on the triumph of good over evil?

Each time I've considered this question--I've found that I focus on the triumph of good over evil, not on the crime.  I don't like to read the descriptions of the crime in detail.  It's not because I want to be a Pollyanna and pretend like nothing bad happens.  But, I want to keep moving forward and "see" the journey of the main characters.

The novel I picked up last week was Always Watching, Lynette Eason's new novel.  I read a novel
of hers a few years ago.  This book was written much better.  I found the flow of the plot was smoother, characters were more developed, and (ignoring the cover) it drew me in more than the novel I'd read by her several years ago.  My husband took issue with the cover and its glamorization of criminal justice careers.  I just ignored the cover and enjoyed the story.

So, what did I enjoy about this book?
#1  There weren't any physical, sexual lines that were crossed or graphically described!
#2  Life wasn't perfect for any of the characters.
#3  Bitterness was at the root of the conflict for one character and the love of money for another.  That is the human heart and what God tells us over and over to guard against in His Word.
#4  The plot's conclusion left the reader (in this case me) with a sense of how hope rises from amidst the drama and heartaches of life.

In Always Watching, Olivia Edwards is a private bodyguard hired to watch over Wade Savage, a radio psychologist who's being stalked.  The stalker has been upping the ante and getting too close for comfort.  Olivia is a likeable character, with her own issues, of course.  Wade is a generous steward of what he has and loves the Lord.  I appreciated how the author wove in Wade's belief in God and his acknowledgement that that He and His daughter shouldn't live in fear because of their faith.  But, Wade didn't express it in a canned, Pollyanna way.  The story follows the stalking and Olivia's quest with her team to find the culprit.  There's danger, of course, along the way and a few twists and turns.
Would I recommend this book if you enjoy this genre?  Sure.  Would I recommend it if you're like me, trying to find something lighthearted and different than Christian romance?  Yes.  If the middle bogs you down, just skip to the last quarter--read how it ends and then go back and read the rest of the book.  Sometimes I have to do this with suspense novels.  I find that I still enjoy going back and reading the rest of the book if the story has been written well!

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Revell Books.

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