Monday, May 25, 2009

The Night Watchman, by Mark Mynheir (Multnomah)

(Click cover for more information)

In a genre in which it's becoming increasingly difficult to find something unique, something fresh, The Night Watchman is indeed a uniquely fresh find. Mr. Mynheir delivers a no-punches-pulled story that delves deeply into the struggle between unrelenting evil in its most vile form and the tenacity of a man's spirit in its most glorious form--underpinned by the power of God's grace.
Ex-detective Ray Quinn, formerly of the Homicide Division of the Orlando Police Department (OPD), is a near-cripple. A year ago, two of three 9-mm slugs fired at point-blank range forced his reliance on a cane. The third took the life of his partner and fiancé, Trisha. The guilt he assumes over her death--paired with the pain and hopelessness of his new, barely ambulatory life--gives him no rest, haunting his nights and clouding his days. The shooting remains unsolved, the trail gone cold.
Ray now languishes as the night watchman at an upscale condominium complex, wasting away his nights over a Sudoku book and his days over a whiskey glass. His shift partner, Crevis Creighton, is a young buck with law-enforcement aspirations, more enthusiasm than gray matter, and he drives Ray nuts.
A suicide-murder at the complex involving an urban missionary and an exotic dancer brings Pam White into Ray's life. Pam is the pastor's sister, a vibrantly unapologetic Christian, and a fierce adherent to the belief that her brother is innocent of the crime. She convinces Ray to investigate what she believes to be a double murder. Pam is attractive, tenacious, prayerful, and she drives Ray nuts.

Circumstances--but mostly his ascerbic personality--alienate Ray from his former boss and co-workers in the Homicide Division, and force him to accept Crevis' and Pam's help in tracking down the truth surrounding the crime. The stumbling investigation of this unlikely trio takes them into the seedy world of "adult" entertainment, the smoke-filled backrooms of the local political establishment, and even the crowded offices of Ray's old workplace--the OPD. Together, they keep one limping half-step ahead of the police and the bad guys through the final twist of this serpentine tale of intrigue, deception and murder.

Kudos to Mr. Mynheir for an innovative spin on a story that, in less capable hands, could've been just another whodunnit with a quirky cast. His innate knoweldge of the subject matter, skillful character development, and subtlely devised plot progression make The Night Watchman a truly enjoyable read. If you like a fast-paced, high-tension story with a believably lovable/irritating lead protagonist and a uniquely gifted supporting cast, you've found it in The Night Watchman.

Good stuff; highly recommended!
Oh, by the way, I have a free copy of The Night Watchman I'd be happy to send to the first person who makes it all the way through this review, and leaves a comment telling me where I misspelled a word and that they'd like to have the book. Happy hunting!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Update on A Prophet's Tale!

I heard from OakTara this past week. (Yes!) I've sent them a revision to The Journey Begun, and should have the first proof sheets in hand next week. Once we're mutually happy with the manuscript, things should roll pretty quickly. Of course, will keep you all posted, as soon as I hear a target date for release. (Of course!)

The senior editor is also halfway through The Word Fulfilled manuscript submission, and things are looking good for a contract on the final part of A Prophet's Tale.

Oh, and I've begun work on my next novel. No, not tellin' just yet. All I'll say is that it has nothing to do with Jonah (bless his heart!).

Cheers! Bruce

New Link - HeartBeat the Magazine

There's a great resource for inspirational online Christian reading - HeartBeat the Magazine. Everything from book reviews (yup, some'll be mine) to everyday Christian living to current events to recipes--they've got it all.

Check it out. You'll enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pilgrimage, by Christine Sunderland (OakTara)

(Click cover for more information)

Twenty-two years ago, Madeleine Seymour suffered every parent's worst fear. Now the nightmares are back.

In Pilgrimage, Ms. Sunderland does a great job of telling a tough story--that of an agonized mother seeking spiritual and emotional redemption.

Pilgrimage begins with Madeleine confiding in her beloved pastor of the distant event that has returned to haunt her nights. He recommends a break, a 'vacation' to Italy, where she and her husband, Jack, had traveled years ago. This time, however, he draws up a list of twelve churches that she is to visit in the order listed. He doesn't say why; he leaves that discovery to her.

So, Madeline and Jack embark on a three-week journey, the itinerary of which includes Rome, Milan, Venice, Bologna, as well as other cultural/religious centers in Italy. At each stop, Madeleine takes another step toward spiritual healing, understanding and self-forgiveness through the lives and lessons of the saints--living and dead--who inhabit the churches they visit.

What is uniquely fascinating about Pilgrimage, is the history--Biblical and traditional--the reader learns about each of these centers of worship and their patrons. Not to fear, though, that it reads like a travelogue; Ms. Sunderland, although thorough and highly descriptive in her treatment of the religious sites, does a great job of weaving this information into a multi-threaded storyline. It is, after all, a novel. As Madeleine focuses on the issue depriving her of sleep, a subplot of intrigue builds against her because of an object she carries. What is it? Sorry.

Ms. Sunderland betrays an intense love and profound respect for the richness and glory of God-centered liturgy, something sorely lacking in evangelical Christianity today--let alone Christian fiction. She delivers historical-ecclesiastical information in an interesting and entertaining way through the characters' dialog and meditations, avoiding pedantic narrative digressions. Her prose is excellent, descriptions vivid, plot revelations subtle, and love for/knowledge of her subject evident.

Oh, and you also learn a lot about what to eat and drink in Italy (Jack's primary interest). The descriptions of their meals had me scrambling for the 'fridge more often than necessary. There's a drawback, if you're looking for one.

.I am really glad Ms. Sunderland wrote this book. It entertains, educates, and makes you think, all at the same time and in an even balance. I can think of two people right off the top of my head I'm going to order copies for. Looking forward to reading her next novel, Offerings, soon to be released by OakTara.

.Thanks, Christine!