Review By Nike Chillemi –
Dickson writes with poetical grace, using the historical flood on the Mississippi River of 1927 as a backdrop. I delighted in reading this work with language that flowed like literary fiction while leading me into a complex mystery story. Significant issues are raised, questions asked.
Reverend Hale Poser, a black man with piercing blue eyes, leaves a high paying and respected position as chaplain in a New Orleans orphanage and travels to Pilotville, LA, where he takes a job as janitor in the Negro infirmary. Poser was an orphan and has reason to believe he will find out about his ancestry in Pilotville. His arrival makes a few in the town suspicious, including Dorothy Truett, a nurse in the infirmary, who it also attracted to him.
Under the wing of Papa DeGroot, a rich white businessman who built the infirmary, the Negro community has felt secure and largely untouched by the Jim Crow atmosphere pervading the south at that time. At the infirmary, Rosa Lamont agonizes with a breech birth until Hale Poser massages her protruding belly, turning the baby around. Baby Hannah is born. Some in the town see this as a miracle. Others fear the janitor is a flimflam man. Her parents rejoice and then the unthinkable happens. The baby vanishes. Both white and colored residents of Pilotville search the swamp and Hale Poser learns this is not the first baby to disappear. Baby disappearances have been going on for years. Reluctantly, Dorothy Truett takes Poser to the grave of a woman whose baby was stolen long ago.
Jean Tibbets, harbormaster of sorts, thought the troubles were over. Then this strange colored preacher came to town. Tibbets saw the janitor praying with arms outstretched near the white church, which made him uneasy. Now another colored baby has vanished. Was that coincidence? There are those in Pilotville who think this Hale Poser asks too many questions about the infants who went missing long ago. Some fear he’s stirring up all kinds of trouble. He asks why the whites and colored folk never worship together. Both the Negro and white preachers put him off, but he doesn’t quit asking. This reveals festering antagonism and resentment that is seldom voiced in Pilotville.
When all others except the baby’s father have given up the search for Baby Hannah, Hale Poser continues in his efforts to find the infant. As if baby snatching weren’t bad enough, then there’s a real nasty turn in the plot. As horrid as events become, Hale Poser’s spirituality and determination to serve God shine through. Was he a miracle worker? A prophet?
This novel got to me. As Hale Poser questions his own spiritual motivations, I had no choice but to look at mine. Athol Dickson has a unique and beautiful voice. The second edition of this novel has just come out and it is well worth the read.
Reviewed By Tammy Doherty –
I had the privilege of reading WEDNESDAY’S CHILD by Clare Revell for pre-publication review. Clare is an author who lives in England but is published in the United States. Her novels are written with that in mind, peppered with loads of British terms and wit, but in a way that Americans can understand and enjoy. Her style and voice are easy to read and keep the reader hooked, page by page. I don’t have an eReader and the computer is shared in the evenings with other family members. As soon as I started WEDNESDAY’S CHILD, though, I greedily horded the computer so I wouldn’t have to stop reading.
The plot for this novel is mostly romance with a light suspense. It opens with an event that scars Liam Page, physically and spiritually. Though horrifying, Ms. Revell does not get graphic with descriptions. Even so, Liam’s pain is palpable and the reader is instantly connected to him. When he meets Jacqui Dorne, neither is looking for love. Ironically, Liam tips over a vase of flowers spilling water all over Jacqui’s laptop. When it turns out she’s the landscape architect just hired by the school where Liam works, both start to suspect they were meant to meet.
Romance blooms in a believable, natural progression. Liam’s damaged faith is a roadblock for Jacqui. Ms. Revell delivers a nice spiritual message without ramming it down her reader’s throat. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? We all have difficulty with that one. Jacqui has come to terms with it herself and now helps Liam overcome his painful past. Then the suspense part of the story really kicks in.
From the start, the “bad guy” is known—Vince, Jacqui’s former boyfriend. Just what is he up to and why, though? Jacqui and Liam both plunge into a world of spies and intrigue in an effort to find out. Vince understandably dislikes Liam. How far will he go to get rid of the competition?
This novel is a page-turner. It’s the third in a series based on Ms. Revell’s rewrite of an old children’s nursery rhyme:
Monday’s Child must hide for protection,
Tuesday’s Child tenders direction,
Wednesday’s Child grieves for his soul,
Thursday’s Child chases the whole,
Friday’s Child is a man obsessed,
Saturday’s Child might be possessed,
And Sunday’s Child on life’s seas is tossed,
Awaiting the Lifeboat that rescues the lost.
I look forward to reading the others in this series.
Reviewed By Nike Chillemi –
Patti Jakowski’s life is super boring, until she gets a phone call from a terrified four-year-old claiming to be her niece. Although Patti feels for the little girl, she believes the claim is preposterous. She hasn’t seen her twin sister in years, but even so, she feels that if she had a niece she would’ve known about it. So, the child must be mistaken. The author’s skill comes through at the outset, as this phone call between Patti and the frightened child is both tender and heartwarming, but also heart wrenching.
This single phone call changes the direction of Patti’s life, as she determines she must go to the child to find out for herself what is going on. She learns that indeed, little Sabrina is her niece and that her identical twin sister Jamie is missing. When Sabrina’s nanny gives Patti the guided tour of Jamie’s house, which in reality is more like a mansion, Patti realizes her sister is a very wealthy woman. Patti remembers Jamie as the flighty and irresponsible, always getting into one scrape or another while growing up and living in New York City in an apartment with roaches. She can’t help but wonder if Jamie came by all this wealth illegally. When she finds her sister’s purse, she knows Jamie didn’t leave the house willingly. A woman doesn’t leave of her own accord without taking her handbag.
It’s not long before a handsome sergeant from the local police force is involved in the case. Sgt. Carter Caldwell is initially skeptical. Jamie’s job takes her out of town frequently and he’s sure she’ll turn up on her own sooner or later…though he’s got this niggling feeling in his gut that something’s amiss somewhere. Initially Pattie is furious with the police sergeant and doesn’t understand why he can’t see what’s as plain as the nose on his face…her sister is in big trouble.
In short order, an FBI agent friend of Jamie’s gets involved and Patti learns Jamie has been doing dangerous undercover work for the federal agency…thus explaining the title DECEPTION. As it turns out Sabrina’s father is involved with a terrorist cell and Jamie volunteered to help implicate him in terrorist activities. The FBI wants to find Jamie just as much as Patti does.
Pattie is nearly accosted by a jogger on the beach near Jamie’s house. Pattie finds her sister’s Bible and realizes Jamie is a believer. Pattie falls asleep that night reading her twin’s Bible. When the jogger assaults the nanny and tries to kidnap Sabrina, a full court press is on by both the FBI and Sgt. Caldwell to find Jamie. Of course, Patti insists on becoming part of the investigation. The plot takes quite a few twists and turns. The bad guys turn out to be very bad indeed, something I like in a suspense novel.
The main characters and a few of the important subordinate characters are Christians. As the story goes forward and Patti and Carter grow closer, beginning a romance, their faith also deepens. Ultimately, it is a story about the importance of strong family relationships and also about never giving up on the people you love.
This is the second novel by Lillian Duncan I’ve read in the romantic suspense genre. The first was PURSUED. I recommend both of them. This is a very talented writer.
Review By Nike Chillemi
This debut novel by a mother and teen-age daughter team portends of good things to come. This is a terrific action-adventure novel with no mere romance, but a wonderful love story. The novel is based on real life, as co-author Kayla, the teenage daughter, has a rare nerve disorder preventing her from regulating her body temperature or feeling pain. They have created a mother-daughter team (Jenna Tikaani-Gray and teenage Andie) whereby the fictional teenage daughter has the same disorder.
The story opens one year after Jenna’s husband and Andie’s dad died in a car crash. Mother and daughter are flying in their private plane back to their home in Alaska and have agreed to give a lift to a man named Cole. When Cole begins struggling in the cockpit area with their pilot Hank they become more than concerned, they’re terrified. And that’s just the beginning of their problems. It’s going to get a lot worse.
It turns out Hank has sabotaged their plane and they’re about to crash into Sultana, perhaps the most remote and dangerous peaks in Alaska. The crash leaves Jenna with a horrid gash in her leg and tremendous loss of blood. Bad men are chasing them and the ladies don’t know why. It seems Cole might know more than he’s letting on But Jenna isn’t sure she can trust him. Her only thought is the protection and care of her daughter. She knows she must keep Andie safe from the bad men who are chasing them, and she fears she might have to protect her daughter from Cole as well. All logic says they should get off the mountain as fast as possible, but Cole insists they hike further up its brutal slopes. His thinking is if they go higher and hide in ice caves cut out of the packed snow, the bad men will not see them going down the mountain and will think they’ve perished in the crash.
Jenna struggles to understand why their pilot, a family friend, betrayed them. Cole finally reveals what he knows about her deceased husband. Jenna is devastated to find out her husband was involved in nefarious and corrupt activities bordering on treason. She begins to allow herself to trust Cole and grows to love him. Cole’s heart has been in a deep-freeze since the death of his wife and daughter, but it’s beginning to thaw as he allows himself to experience intimate emotions he hasn’t felt in years. I was deeply touched by the way Andie’s simple and beautiful faith was presented. I think that will be a breath of fresh air to long time Christians and will explain the faith to any non-Christians reading the novel.
I enjoyed the different points of view and thought that was handled well. The way they did it enabled me to get to know many of the characters in a deeper way. If I have one bone to pick it’s that the brave and stoic Jenna, who confronts every challenge on the mountain head on, turns into a whiny, weepy female as soon as she gets to safety. I would’ve liked her character to retain her strength. That aside the novel is a page turner. Action-adventure lovers will enjoy this novel, I’m sure.
Reviewed by Tammy Doherty –
Book #3 in the Sanctuary Point series sees the return of Argus Nye. This time, he’s the hero of the story. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two novels in this series, though previous plots and characters are referenced, these novels are each individual and enjoyable on their own.
In the opening chapter of PERILOUS SHADOWS, a body is discovered in the supply closet at WSAN radio station where Argus works. Beautiful, vivacious intern, Clarissa Vreeland, is dead of a broken neck. Station manager Jim Heaney puts Argus on the case even as the police investigate. Argus juggles his desire for justice with the need for news for his radio broadcasts.
Kiera Devane is a newspaper reporter swiftly making a name for herself as a woman working in a man’s world. Unfortunately, that name isn’t all good. Though her skills as an investigative reporter are mostly respected, people say she’s cold-hearted. Kiera struggles with demons from the past that cause her to keep people at arms’ length.
Kiera and Argus join forces to solve Clarissa’s murder. Ever the gentleman, Argus finds himself attracted to Kiera. He wants to protect her from not only physical threats that arise during the investigation but also from emotional pain, past and present. Kiera is drawn to Argus through his kindness and friendship. The budding romance is firmly established when Argus learns Kiera’s terrible secret—and isn’t turned off.
PERILOUS SHADOWS is set in post WWII 1940′s. Ms. Chillemi does a nice job of describing fashions of the time and accurately portraying people’s attitudes and morals. The reader is immersed in the era with a movie quality feel. Despite her “ice princess” reputation, Kiera is immediately likeable; it’s easy to identify with both her ambition and drive as well as her fears. Angus is loveable, yet it’s almost difficult to imagine someone so chivalrous, which is a sad reflection of society today. He’s not too perfect to be true, though. His temper nearly gets him in hot water several times and his unwillingness to report scandalous material allows Kiera to get “the scoop” occasionally.
Red herrings abound in this novel. The mystery is masterfully developed and the list of suspects grows with each turn. Who killed Clarissa and why? Was it lecherous Paul Gregorski, Angus’ co-worker? Or Edward Harper, spurned ex-boyfriend? Perhaps Paul’s new wife killed Clarissa in a fit of jealous rage. Then again, it could be someone else yet undiscovered. The trail of clues seems to clearly lead in one direction only to peter-out. The end has a surprising twist.