River Rising, – Athol Dickson, Bethany House
This 2006 Christy award-winning book is beautifully written with a unique and memorable hero. Hale Poser comes to Pilotville, Louisiana in 1927 looking for his past, and he steps right into a terrible mystery – a stolen baby. While Hale struggles with his faith, he is drawn deeper into the mystery as he discovers other missing babies spanning several decades.
From this mysterious and beautifully written beginning the book plunges rather awkwardly into a more bizarre plot shift which seemed contrived to force home the author’s point dealing with racial issues. Although, I found parts of the book contrived, from start to finish I enjoyed Dickson’s ability to use imagery and evocative phrasing, and as the book progressed, I was deeply moved by Hale’s plight, as implausible as it was at times. Dickson painted a very believable character in a rather unbelievable situation. Not a bad read for a hot summer day.
Chop Shop – Tim Downs, Howard Fiction
Chop Shop is an intriguing tale of love, death, crime and insects. The lovable myopic hero, Nick Polchack, and his love interest, Dr. Riley McKay, tackle ethical issues in a medical mystery fraught with danger and humor.
While the book deals ethical social issues, it is not overtly “religious” in nature with the exception of a handful of scripture verses tossed, most notably at the end. The scripture-quoting characters are never identified as spiritual people, much less Christian, so the scripture quotes are not only unexpected, they are rather glaringly. All in all it was an exciting book with likable characters and a couple of surprising twists at the end that promise to lead to a sequel with perhaps a deeper look into Nick’s character… and maybe even his faith.
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River Rising – Athol Dickson, Bethany House