Christian fiction

Book & Cover Review of "Back On Murder" by J. Mark Bertrand

Back on Murder (Roland March Mysteries)
Book Review
Back on Murder (Roland March Mysteries) was one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a long time, and that includes both Christian and non-Christian fiction. I believe I read it in the span of 24 hours?  It’s gritty. It’s raw. And the story and it’s characters come across as totally real. Houston homicide detective Roland March is great at what he does.  He may have fallen from glory, but he still knows how to get in there and doggedly track down the answers – following every loose trail and analyzing the flaws and motives of every person he comes into contact with, including some intriguing Christian characters.

Additionally, Roland March himself is very flawed. Due to the story being written in first person point of view we are blatantly aware of his mental anxieties, his marital problems, his struggles with grief, with work-place politics and his fear that his intuition about this case could be all wrong … and then he’ll feel like he’s sinking even deeper into the mud that seems lately to be filling his life.

I just can’t say enough good things about this book. Some heavy topics are tackled in a very realistic way, but without at all coming across as preachy or providing ‘pat’ answers. In fact, I get the impression that Roland hasn’t decided at all that he wants to model himself after the Christians he has come into contact with during this case … but you do get the feeling that they have already started making an impression on the way he thinks about them, and about life in general.  The ball is rolling, and I can’t wait to see where it tumbles next!  J. Mark Bertrand has definitely earned a spot on my favorite mystery writer’s list! (And that says a lot because anyone reading this blog knows I also just posted a review for Steven Jame’s ‘the Bishop’ on here … and sorry Steven, but although I also enjoyed the Bishop … I LOVED ‘Back On Murder even more!)

Book Cover Review
Grungy, gritty … it just works. The author crafted a great book full of realism and flaws and the cover artist has done well to capture that feeling.  Even the title itself is not free of rust and harsh texture.  The use of bold black against a caution sign yellow is also a nice touch.  Without the rough textures added into it, the yellow would be too strong, but instead it enhances a sense of danger – perfect for a murder novel.  I will say that before I read the book I wasn’t sure about the photo at the top of the front cover.  You can tell it is two people, likely at sunrise … but not really sure what they are doing except walking toward the light.  I’m not sure if the figures are large enough to draw a new reader in?

After reading it, I can say that the photo is a good fit(though there might be a stronger one out there?), as the picture seems to embody that a new day, and a new perspective are on the rise for Roland March.  He’s ‘back on the beat’ and hitting his stride again.  However, to capture the interest of first time readers I think that element of the cover is probably a little small?  The large grungy block letters might intrigue them enough to pick it up if they are already a murder mystery reader (or the prominent Houston detective badge on the spine) … but it’s actually the text on the back cover, rather than the image on the front, that will entice them to buy it.

The cover and the writing in this book would appeal to all mystery lovers – men and women alike.  If you can’t turn off shows like Law & Order, Cold Case, Numb3rs and the like then this book will be a great fit for you … [Have I mentioned it’s really great yet? LOL!] I am considering buying extra copies to give away as gifts. It is THAT good.

*I wish to thank the author for providing this book for me to review.  I absolutely enjoyed it, and I hope that it is the first of many great Roland March mysteries to come! (Sorry it took me a little while to get the review posted. I’ve been backlogged with freelance work of my own this month!)

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