Tag Archives: Christian Suspense

Christian Chapters: If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

Top-Notch Christian Suspense That Teaches and Inspires


If I’m Found
by Terri Blackstock


Series: If I Run (Book 2)
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Zondervan
Length: 384pp
ISBN-13: 978-0310332480

Related Links:
Terri Blackstock’s Website
Terri Blackstock’s YouTube Channel

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AmazonBN

 

 


Publisher Synopsis

Is Dylan hunting Casey to prosecute her or protect her?

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.


My Review

The adventures of Casey and Dylan continue to provide a high level of entertainment. If you haven’t read book one in the series, though, please do so before picking up If I’m Found. Both are outstanding Christian thrillers, and everything I wrote in my review of If I Run applies to its sequel. I won’t risk giving anything away by delving into the plot, but be assured that you’re in for another suspenseful outing as the mystery deepens and the danger mounts.

As in the first book, this story unfolds through the eyes of several narrators. What Terri Blackstock does as well as or better than any of her contemporaries is recognize where to end an arc of chapters devoted to the same speaker. Some authors — most in fact — who employ this device choose to cut off their narrator at cliff’s edge and proceed directly to another character’s viewpoint, thereby ensuring that the reader remains in suspense. Or so they hope. Too often, what actually happens is the reader’s interest level plunges as the next chapter begins, and that chapter becomes a stumbling block, interrupting our concern about a character’s fate. Blackstock sticks with her narrator until the current crisis finds, if not resolution, then a natural resting place. It’s as if she composes long chapters, and later divides them into shorter ones, keeping them unbroken by other narrators. This gives the reader the ability to dive wholeheartedly into a narrative arc knowing she won’t be jerked out of it prematurely.

Where If I’m Found outdoes its predecessor is in its religious discussions. If I Run did not hide its light by any means, but here, as the characters grow closer to God and begin to see His hand active in their lives, the meaning and power of Christian faith are expounded upon in greater detail. Such is the author’s ability that never does anything seem contrived about those moments; instead, they occur as part of the familiar and inborn path one travels when moving towards a fuller understanding and a deeper faith. At the conclusion of the book, there’s even a multi-page author’s note where Blackstock discusses her personal efforts at striving to see God in everything and giving thanks to Him. It’s an excellent wrap-up to the novel and reminds the reader that the three hundred plus pages she has just read contained more than a fictional story. (To emphasize: Last year, I placed my review of If I Run on ReadLove‘s “Fiction Shelves”; this time around, If I’m Found has landed squarely in our “Christian Chapters” category.)

I’ll end this review paraphrasing the sentence I used to conclude my review of the first novel: When the final page is turned, the reader feels perfectly satisfied with the present book, but is eagerly looking forward to the next!

— Jennifer Michelle

Verdict


5 of 5 Hearts. Top-Notch Christian Suspense That Teaches and Inspires.

It’s another heart-pounding, page-turning Christian thriller from the pen of Terri Blackstock. But If I’m Found is more than its sub-genre. It’s the story of two people learning to trust God and each other while battling seemingly impossible odds, their wits their only weapon, their faith their only shield.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a physical copy of If I’m Found in exchange for an honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Netgalley and Zondervan for providing me with a digital copy of If I’m Found in exchange for an honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Fiction Shelves: If I Run By Terri Blackstock

An Exciting Christian Mystery-Suspense Novel with Depth


If I Run
by Terri Blackstock


Series: If I Run (Book 1)
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Zondervan
Length: 305pp
ISBN-13: 978-0310332435

Related Links:
Terri Blackstock’s Website
Terri Blackstock’s YouTube Channel

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Buy the Book

AmazonBN

 

 

 


Publisher Synopsis

Casey knows the truth. But it won’t set her free.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.


My Review

Though classified simply and mundanely as Fiction on the book jacket, If I Run is part Mystery and all Suspense. From the first sentence – “There’s blood on the bottom of my shoes.” – Terri Blackstock captures our attention; within a few chapters, her heroine has secured our support, something her hero also does quickly once the alternate narration starts. From that point, the characters are increasingly interesting, the plot ever-thickening, and the suspense never-ending.

The story of Casey and Dylan, the hunted and the hunter, unfolds logically and in prose that’s neither overly stylish nor dryly pedestrian. We learn the circumstances behind Casey’s flight later than might be expected, but by then her personality and actions have already convinced us of her innocence. Dylan, the war-veteran-turned-investigator, faces a tougher path to uncovering and accepting the truth as he tracks the elusive (supposed) killer of his friend.

Too many times the storytelling device of multiple narrators elevates one character’s voice and/or situation above the rest and those in-between chapters become a drag to get through. But Blackstock has done a good job of making us like and sympathize with both Casey and Dylan, and has plunged each into their own dramatic quagmire, so neither dominates the other. We are equally happy and at home in every chapter, regardless of who is moving the plot.

If I Run does not hide its Christian light beneath a bushel. God and the teachings of Jesus are frequently mentioned, though never in an intrusive or didactic way. One of the two protagonists is a professed Christian, while the other is a doubter, but on a journey to belief, which lends variety and perspective to the story.

When the final page is turned, the reader is left in a perfect place: She feels satisfied with the present book, but is also eagerly looking forward to the next!

— Jennifer Michelle

Verdict


4.5 of 5 Hearts. An Exciting Christian Mystery-Suspense Novel with Depth.

If it’s a can’t-put-down heart-thumper you’re looking for in the Christian genre, grab If I Run and join Casey and Dylan for an absorbing, fast-paced, often thoughtful read.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Fiction Guild and Zondervan for providing me with a copy of If I Run in exchange for an honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Christian Chapters: The Turning by Davis Bunn

A Solid Tale of Good vs. Evil

ImageThe Turning
by Davis Bunn


Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: River North, Imprint of Moody Publishers
Length: 296 pp
Paperback/ISBN-13: 978-0-8024-1168-6
eBook/ISBN-13: 978-0-8024-9032-2

Awards:

2013 Christy Award Winner (Suspense)

Related Links:

Official Website (contains a vast amount of material, including a devotional)

 

 

 

 


Publisher Synopsis

The message was unexpected but instantly recognizable.

A voice resonated from a distance and somehow from within. Against all earthly logic, it carried a divine command. And five very different people knew they were summoned to obey.

Their actions were demanding, but not particularly grand. Only later would they see a pattern emerge – one that links their tasks together and comes to challenge the cultural direction of the nation. They realize that one small personal response unveiled a new realm of moral responsibility. And this affirmation of everyday hope captures the attention of millions.But power and money are at stake. Malicious elements soon align themselves to counter the trend. To succeed they must also undermine its source. Can we really believe that God speaks to people today? Surely this must be dismissed as superstition or delusion. These well-intentioned but misguided individuals should not be allowed to cast our society back into the Dark Ages.

The public debate and media frenzy place an unprecedented spotlight on knowing and doing God’s will. The five encounter threats, but try to remain steadfast in their faith. Had God indeed imparted wisdom on selected individuals? Is this sweep of events part of his divine purpose?

The movement may herald a profound renewal – one that some are calling The Turning…


My Review

One interesting thing to note: the entire plot of the novel takes place over the course of 12 days. As such, in addition to chapters, the novel is divided into sections labelled “Day One,” “Day Two,” “Day Three,” and so on.

In the beginning of the book, it’s a little disorienting trying to be sure you know all the players.

The major characters:

The adversary:

  • Trent, a New York City career climber, who’ll stop at nothing to prove himself and attain power.

The “Team”:

  • John, a quiet, blue-collar man from Cleveland
  • Alisha, an African-American choir director from Baltimore
  • Jenny, a young, single Chinese-American editor from Orlando
  • Ruth, the widow of a famous evangelist
  • Yussuf, a refugee from Damascus, trained as a surgeon

When introduced to Trent, you are able to sympathize, at least a bit, with him. He has a background as a bit of an outcast. Due to a cleft palette, he never quite fit in. While I sympathized with him, I never really liked him. But then, he’s the villain, right?

John, however, was immediately likeable. Alisha, too. Jenny took a little while to grow on me, but I was able to understand her generational parent/child dynamics.

Each of the characters is unique. Five people hear God’s voice directing them. I was disappointed that four of these folks were in church when they heard God’s voice speaking. I guess the target audience for the book is church-goers, but there are believers who may not go to church. It might have been nice to have God select an unbeliever. But that would have taken time that isn’t available in the 12 day framework. Still, it’s hard not to remember that Jesus went outside the walls of the church to find his apostles. It’s a minor gripe, but something I couldn’t help but notice.

If you can get past the small contrivances that bring the five people together in New York City, The Turning has some valuable lessons and messages to impart. First, the book serves as a good reminder that God is still speaking today. It also urges us to remember that though we are each but one person, together we can accomplish much, especially when God is at the center.

Each person who is called to respond has a lot of soul-searching to do. And of each, much is required. Generally they must grapple with relationship issues and forgiveness. Additionally, each has to make sacrifices as he/she surrenders to God’s will. You’ll find some of their stories emotionally moving, and probably ask yourself questions about your own relationships.

The story is a classic tale of good vs. evil. In this case, the struggle is an ideological war. A dark world view dominated by greed, power-lust, and self-gratification under the banner “Hope is Dead” is pitted against a small, motley crew of individuals who believe that God is still alive and well.

Some elements of the story are a little far-fetched, and some of the characters are a tad stereotyped. But, true to life, most of the characters are flawed humans. It helped that, in particular, I found the character of John Jacobs — the reluctant leader — likeable and compelling.

There were moments of humor to help keep the overall tone of the novel from getting too dark or moody. The plot, though at times predictable, moved along at a steady pace. I was a little uncertain whether the ending was admitting that the fight was just beginning or leaving things open for possible sequels.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

3 Hearts - Final

3 of 5 Hearts. A Solid Tale of Good vs. Evil.

The Turning is likely to be enjoyed, and possibly rated more highly, by certain kinds of readers. This is probably not a book that will appeal to those outside the Christian market. Though not without flaws, it’s an enjoyable read that delivers an important message.

*Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received the above book for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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