Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back on Murder

(a Roland March Mystery)

by J. Mark Bertrand

Bethany House
384 pages

Crime Drama That Towers Above Others in Christian Market

Roland March is a Houston homicide detective who seems to be headed out of the force. He’s lost the respect of his fellow officers and doesn’t seem to care. But then he’s given one last opportunity to prove himself when an evangelist’s daughter goes missing. His gut tells him her disappearance is tied to recent multiple murders at a drug house, but the facts don’t point in that direction. The case becomes personal to him, and he won’t back down until he uncovers the truth, regardless of what it costs.


I love a good crime novel. Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch stories are among my favorites. But, in the world of Christian fiction, where Amish and romance stories reign, finding novels that even shadow Connelly’s quality are rare. J. Mark Bertrand, in his first solo effort (He wrote Bequiled with Deeanne Gist), has proven himself more than capable. He’s penned an intriguing mystery, one that keeps the reader guessing to the end. He layers it with details that show he understands not only police procedure, but how it affects their thought process and their home life.

Bertrand also uses a couple of literary devices that I typically don’t care for. Back on Murder is written in first person using present tense, which if not written very well, will draw the reader out of the story. More and more authors are attempting to write in present tense as it theoretically makes what happens more immediate, but what they succeed in doing is jarring the reader from the story. My internal editor can’t help but edit the story to the more common past tense. Not once did that happen in Back on Murder. Bertrand used the device with expertise so that the reader doesn’t automatically say to themselves, “This is present-tense.” You’re just reading his unique voice.

I look forward to reading more from J. Mark Bertrand.

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