Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Breaker's Reef / by Terri Blackstock

When the body of well-liked teenager Emily Lawrence is murdered in the quaint coastal village of Cape Refuge, GA, it sets the whole town aghast. Virtually everyone was connected to the Lawrence family in one way or another and all feel the brunt of the shock. Police Chief Matthew Cade tries to handle things as best he can, going on the few leads he's got while trying to keep his overeager deputy Scott Crown from bumbling things up. But when another murdered body--a second girl--turns up, everyone in Cape Refuge including Cade and his amateurish squad comes to the solemn conclusion that it's the same perpetrator--a serial murderer who's likely to kill again. Several suspects emerge including a newly arrived novelist named Marcus Gibson whose eccentricities, including skulking around town in the middle of the night, odd former relationships and scatterbrained thoughts, lend many to pin him as the culprit.
Another thing tying Gibson to the case is Sheila Caruso. An ex-con and single mother of two teenagers, Sheila has been working as a secretary for the Gibson when she suddenly makes a startling discovery about author and his selective subject matter which includes an scenario from one of his earlier novels which matches the circumstances of the second murder almost exactly. A close friend of Chief Cade, Sheila lets him in on the details only for new evidence to turn up targeting Cade himself as the murderer. Someone seems to have it in for both Cade and Sheila, a notion confirmed when Sheila's daughter Sadie goes missing. Soon things in Cape Refuge escalate to an almost unbearable pitch with the tension testing Sheila's faith in a way she never could have imagined.
This is the fourth and final installment in Blackstock's Cape Refuge series and is a good testament as to why she's been such a unique success. Christian fiction isn't always this multi-dimensional; many associate the genre almost solely with sentimental love stories and prairie sagas. But Blackstock isn't afraid to explore darker material of vice and violence or depict life's less pleasant or downright awful situations while mixing in the themes of grace and redemption. And while the content surrounding the two grisly murders is nowhere near as explicit as other more mainstream thrillers are apt to describe it, the book is nonetheless an exciting tale of mystery and suspense, its fast-paced narrative as well as its emotional and spiritual conflicts making for a good read. Readers unfamiliar with the author or the series shouldn't worry about catching up on things as Blackstock does a good job to ease the backstory along as she's providing the details of the present situation. (FIC BLACKSTO)

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