This is a well-written novel, that definitely strikes off the beaten path when it comes to Christian fiction. My guess is that Don is trying to appeal to both a Christian and non-Christian readership. His main character, CJ Baxter, has only recently become a Christian, and it’s made abundantly clear that he is still struggling to remember that this should be affecting his life choices. His conscience does eventually begin to prick at him, but the overall tone of the book is similar to main-stream political/crime novels for over 90% of the book.
Without giving too much away, the premise of the story is about a well-connected family that has been driven by aspirations for political power for generations. Driven to the point of murder. There is more than one family secret that comes to light in this novel, and the main character struggles with his anger over having to shoulder some of these secrets so that others would avoid the consequences. Learning to forgive, or at least to choose not to want to be angry, is a large theme in this story that features back-stabbing, domestic violence and the bitter war that can be waged using personal property in separation or divorce.
A good story, but leaves you feeling winded and more like you’ve finally reached the beginning of his spiritual journey – at the very end of the novel. I would like to have seen more spiritual growth in the character by the novel’s end. (Perhaps this character will be seen again in another book that will cover that? Time will tell.)
Book Cover Review
Again, I think the cover design also reflects the fact that this author is trying to reach both a Christian and a non-Christian audience. The cover is very reminiscent of many popular suspense or crime novels as it is dominated almost entirely by the image of a smoking gun. There is a very faint background of a dark wooded area faded into the top inch or so of the cover, but it is barely noticeable compared to the large, and vibrant red title text and the smoking gun barrel.
The only hints on the cover that elude to a Christian message are the fact that this book is noticeably published by Bethany House, a well-known inspirational fiction publisher, and one critical review printed on the back cover from the Library Journal “This intelligent drama will appeal to readers who enjoy stories about … the faith that guides one through life.” Even this critical review seems to hint that the end of his sentence might be a little bit of a surprise.
It is my opinion that the cover style matches the tone of this novel, and should help the author accomplish reaching a wider audience with his message (I just wish the message had been a bit clearer by the end of the novel. Not that I wanted it to to become preachy … just that I wish it hadn’t ended quite at the spot that it did.)
* This book was provided to me for review by the Bethany House Book Reviewer program.