Sunday, April 26, 2009

Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl with April Henry

Face of Betrayal

Face of Betrayal
by Lis Wiehl
with April Henry

Hardback: 310 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
First Released: 2009

April Henry's Website

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
Fox News legal correspondent and former Federal Prosecutor Lis Wiehl has created a suspense novel that's as timely as tomorrow's headlines.

While home on Christmas break, a seventeen-year-old Senate page takes her dog out for a walk and never returns. Reporter Cassidy Shaw is the first to break the story. The resulting media firestorm quickly ensnares Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce and FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges. The three unique women are life-long friends who call themselves The Triple Threat--a nickname derived from their favorite dessert and their uncanny ability to crack cases via their three positions of power.

Though authorities think Katie might have been kidnapped or run away, those theories shatter when Nicole uncovers Katie's blog. They reveal a girl troubled by a mysterious relationship with an older man. Possibly a U.S. Senator.

As the three women race against time to find Katie alive, their increasing emotional involvement brings out their own inner demons and external enemies. There are many faces of betrayal, but they must find one face in a crowd of growing suspects before they become the next victims.

In Face of Betrayal, Lis Wiehl's expertise in law, politics, and criminal investigation merges with April Henry's narrative genius to create a gripping mystery filled with rich characters, real danger, and a shocking yet satisfying final twist.

This well-written book is a detective novel. It reads a bit like a true crime novel except, of course, the story is fictional. The depth of "behind the scenes" detail given for the three main character's jobs and for the city they lived in made the story feel very realistic, like it could really have happened. The level of detail, however, was never too heavy for me nor did it slow the fast pacing.

I wouldn't really call this book a suspense novel. There are moments of suspense, but the book didn't really get tense and stay tense until the last third of the story.

Also, the novel is certainly a mystery, but not really of the "who done it" guessing game type. The reader gets the clues as quickly as the heroines, and the heroines act on the clues just as fast as they get them. Which is nice, since I like smart heroines who are good at their job and work well together.

All three of the main characters are likable and interesting. They struggle with personal problems even as they work to find the missing girl and uncover the bad guy. For those interested, one heroine is a Christian who lives out her faith, one heroine is an atheist because she feels God didn't help her in her time of need so he must not exist, and the last heroine flits from one religion to the next. Unless the reader is strongly anti-Christian, I think both Christians and non-Christians would really enjoy this book.

There is sex (including between an unmarried couple), but it's implied and not explicit. There is a very minor amount of cussing/derogatory language. Overall, I'd rate this "very good, clean fun."

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Chapter One
Northwest Portland
December 13

"Come on, Jalapeno!"

Katie Converse jerked the dog's leash. Reluctantly, the black Lab mix lifted his nose and followed her. Katie wanted to hurry, but everything seemed to invite Jalapeno to stop, sniff, and lift his leg. And there was no time for that now. Not today.

She had grown up less than two miles from here, but this afternoon everything looked different. It was winter, for one thing, nearly Christmas. And she wasn't the same person she had been the last time she was here, not a month earlier. Then she had been a little girl playing at being a grown-up. Now she was a woman.

Finally, she reached the agreed-upon spot. She was still shaking from what she had said less than two hours earlier. What she had demanded.

Now there was nothing to do but wait. Not an easy task for an impatient seventeen-year-old.

She heard the scuff of footsteps behind her. Unable to suppress a grin, Katie called his name as she turned around.

At the sight of the face, contorted with rage, Jalapeno growled.

Read more from the book.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills

Breach of Trust

Breach of Trust
by DiAnn Mills

Trade Paperback: 379 pages
Publisher: Tyndale
First Released: 2009

Author Website

Source: ARC I requested from publisher

Back Cover Description:
Paige Rogers is a former CIA agent who lost all she treasured seven years ago when her entire team was killed in a covert mission. She blames their leader—Daniel Keary—whom Paige believes betrayed them. Disillusioned and afraid for her life, she disappeared and started a new life as a small-town librarian.

But when Keary announces his candidacy for governor of her state, he comes after Paige to ensure that she won't ruin his bid for office. He threatens everything she holds dear, and Paige must choose between the life of hiding that has become her refuge . . . or risking everything in one last, desperate attempt to right old wrongs.

Breach of Trust is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It is an excellent, pulse-pounding suspense novel with interesting characters.

The pacing and tension levels were excellent, drawing me to read on when I really should have been turning off the light to go to sleep. While there was tension from several fronts (like her growing relationship with Miles, the local high school football coach, and the conflicts he had to deal with), the main tension was between Paige and Keary.

The characters were all interesting, varied, and engaging. They acted in realistic ways. To me, the heroine felt distant at times. While it was in-character for her to hold people at arm's length, it also meant I didn't bond to her struggles--mainly the romantic ones--as much as I might have. But this may have just been me.

Both Paige and Miles are Christians who lived out their faith. In this book, Paige struggles with how to reconcile her Christian principles with the deception required in her current circumstances.

Paige's reasons for not immediately dating Miles were valid and came from past betrayals as well as the constraints of her current circumstances. However, I was never really in doubt about their future together considering how the hero was introduced.

The world-building details were good. There was no sex. I don't recall any cussing. Overall, I'd rate it "good, clean fun."

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Chapter One
Librarian Paige Rogers had survived more exciting days dodging bullets to protect her country. Given a choice, she'd rather be battling assassins than collecting overdue fines. For that matter, running down terrorists had a lot more appeal than running down lost books. Oh, the regrets of life--woven with guilt, get-over-its, and move-ons. But do-overs were impossible, and the adventures of her life were now shelved alphabetically under fiction.

Time to reel in my pitiful attitude and get to work. Paige stepped onto her front porch with what she needed for a full workday at the library. Already, perspiration dotted her face, a reminder of the rising temperatures. Before locking the door behind her, she scanned the front yard and surveyed the opposite side of the dusty road, where chestnut-colored quarter horses grazed on sparse grass. Torrid heat and no rain, as though she stood on African soil. But here, nothing out of the ordinary drew her attention. Just the way she liked it. Needed it.

Here's a link so you can read the whole first chapter.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello

The Rivers Run Dry

The Rivers Run Dry
by Sibella Giorello

Trade Paperback: 321 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
First Released: 2009

Author Website

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
When a routine case turns deadly, forensic geologist Raleigh Harmon finds her career on the rocks and her life at stake.

Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is good at her job, but not as good at bureau politics. As one of the few females on the team, she finds herself in a strange land when she's transferred from Richmond to drought-stricken Seattle. When a hiker suddenly goes missing and a ransom note arrives, Raleigh realizes there's no time for transitions. Vowing to find the missing college girl, she must rely on her forensic geology skills to uncover the truth, leaving no stone unturned.

Gritty and poetic, with an evocative sense of place, a quirky cast of characters, a fast-twisting plot, and a compelling, complicated heroine, this superbly crafted mystery will keep you reading compulsively as hope runs short, the clock runs down, and the rivers run dry.

This book is a Christian suspense novel. There was plenty of conflict and trouble in this novel, both from allies and enemies, so the suspense started high and stayed high.

The setting was vividly realized which created a sense that this really could have happened. However, for me, the author's frequent use of "poetic language" tended to obscure the descriptions as often as not. I'd have to stop and think about what the author meant to convey, which took me out of the story. This didn't hamper the pacing much, but, after a while, I did find myself skimming over any adjective, adverb, or metaphor that didn't immediately create a mental image in my head.

The characters were all interesting and felt realistic and varied. While Raleigh Harmon is a Christian, she's initially not completely comfortable with her faith or God due to recent events.

God is a subtle but important element in this novel. It isn't preachy, though, so I suspect most non-Christian readers would enjoy the book.

The author does an excellent job of building conflict, but she twice fails on the follow-through near the beginning of the novel. She builds the conflict in the scene, hits the highest point, and the jumps out of the scene. It's like the author said, "I'm not sure what happens next, but I got all the important points across so I'll stop here and let the reader fill in their own details." Granted, the scene didn't need to be played out in full detail, but I wanted to know what happened. Without a summary sentence or two in transition, these two jumps jerked me out of the story.

Despite the minor problems, the book was a very good read. There was no cussing or explicit sex. Overall, I'd rate this novel as "good, clean fun."

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Chapter One
It was early October when I drove east toward the mountains outside Seattle with tainted emeralds on my mind. The autumn sun gilded birch leaves and the blue sky appeared polished by a crisp and steady wind. But the green in the trees stole the show.

Armies of cedar and fir and hemlock marched up the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, long limbs glowing with a peculiar shade of green I'd only seen once before: when a six-carat emerald rolled across a stainless steel examination tray in the FBI's materials analysis lab. That gem's green facets glowed with a hue so verdant, so luscious, it whispered sibilant promises in the ears of greedy men.

Just before the town of Issaquah, I turned south off Interstate 90 and followed Sunset Way to the western side of Cougar Mountain. My car windows were open and the air smelled of pine needles and dry curling leaves and iron-rich soil warmed by the sun. This was supposed to be a routine visit, a courtesy call by the FBI for the local PD. But I've learned not to judge anything by appearance; that gorgeous emerald in the FBI lab cost three men their lives.

Monday, April 6, 2009

And the Winner is...

Six people entered the contest for a copy of "Thunder of Heaven" by Ted Dekker. (@sumrthyme and @jgrubbs entered via Twitter.) As it turns out, before the contest ended there were two correct answers to my question: "Kiss" which was released in hardback on Jan. 6, 2009 and "Green" which will be released in hardback on Sept. 1, 2009.

Using a random number generator (a.k.a. a dice) and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address via Twitter.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Thief Taker by Janet Gleeson

The Thief Taker

The Thief Taker
by Janet Gleeson

Trade Paperback: 305 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
First Released: 2004

Source: Bought from

Back Cover Description:
Agnes Meadowes is cook to the Blanchards of Foster Lane, the renowned London silversmiths. Preparing jugged hare, oyster loaves, almond soup, and other delicacies for the family has given her a dependable life for herself and her son. But when the Blanchards' most prestigious commission, a giant silver wine cooler, is stolen and a young apprentice murdered, Theodore Blanchard calls on Agnes to investigate below stairs. Soon she is inside the sordid underworld of London crime, where learning the truth comes at a high price.

This well-written novel is a historical mystery with a great deal of suspense. In fact, it's more of a suspense novel than a 'piece together the clues' puzzle. The world-building was excellent with vivid details that brought the time period to life. Many of the obstacles Agnes faced arose from the constrains of the time period and she very much acted as a woman of her times.

The novel was mainly written from Agnes' viewpoint, but the viewpoint routinely switched through a number of other characters. I generally didn't have trouble keeping track of who was who, though, especially once I'd been reading for a while.

The varied, realistic characters engaged my interest. I enjoyed how there were consequences to a person's actions and how Agnes grew as a person as a result of the circumstances she was forced into. At times I wasn't certain why Agnes acted the way she did, but I was always convinced there was a good reason...though perhaps one she hadn't even admitted to herself.

There was some swearing, though not much. There was one semi-explicit accidental glimpse of sex and several non-explicit sexual encounters between people who weren't married to each other (once by the heroine). The sex was treated fairly realistically--it wasn't treated lightly and it came with emotional and physical consequences. Overall, I'd rate it good, fairly clean fun.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Chapter One
Agnes Meadowes first saw the girl one Monday morning, huddled in a doorway in Foster Lane. She was no more than twelve or thirteen; her feet were bare, and apart from a bright crimson shawl wrapped about her head, her costume was ragged, and colorless with dirt.

But there was nothing remarkable about the sight of a beggar loitering in the streets of London in 1750, and Agnes was preoccupied with more important matters. As cook for the Blanchards of Foster Lane, she was thinking about ragout, and where to find the best angelica for syllabub, and how much the kitchen maid and scullery maid would get done while she was out.

Despite all this, something about the girl, sitting alone surveying the street, struck a chord. The girl was sitting still as stone, her bony knees pressed up to her pinched face, her eyes fixed on the Blanchards' doorway. Her shawl reminded Agnes of the one her husband had given her on their wedding day, and she felt a moment of sympathy, mingled with suspicion.