I’ve read this book so many times I’ve practically memorized it. Strong characters, taut action scenes, and a thoughtful look at the Middle East make for a great Christian suspense story without excessive violence. Bunn’s award-winning style comes through in a riveting plot and a good window into the political and religious tensions of Iran and Iraq. I learned more about Middle Eastern culture from this book than I ever did from textbooks. The setting comes alive through the different characters’ experiences, whether it’s Marc and his team on a recon in the desert or Sameh and his family in their loving home.
Reading this book, I was reminded once again of how little is required of me as a Christian in the United States—and how little I have invested in what I say is important to me. These characters were willing to endure the most horrendous things—and love the people doing those things—because of who they described as their “beautiful Jesus.” So many of the characters’ actions were convicting, not only the characters who were sacrificing everything for the cause of Christ, but also the characters who were searching and empty or thought they were entitled to have what they wanted.
Quite a change from the last book I reviewed, which was the slow and gentle Tender Grace by Jackina Stark (read my review here if you missed it). James Hannibal’s books are always a toss-up for me. I enjoy his style and characterization, but often his thrillers are a bit too dark or gruesome for me. I enjoy a good-guys-vs.-bad-guys story as much as the next girl, but most thrillers leave me with a sense of sorrow over the cavalier loss of life, and it’s especially sad when, as in this book, the victims involve young people making really bad choices. Those general thoughts apply to this book as well: great style, characters, and action, but not for sensitive readers (which I often am).
I don’t often pick up diary-style fiction, but this book drew me in right away through Audrey’s real, heartfelt voice. Her grief and “stuckness” were so real, but so was her longing to change. This was a gentle, beautiful, real-life story of moving on, growing in grace, and letting the word of God do its life-changing work.
Davis Bunn has long been one of my favorite authors in the Christian suspense genre. This book is definitely more of the general-market contemporary flavor; it has some suspense, but of a mild variety, and the level of Christian content is inspirational at best. But the characters are well drawn, and Bunn’s writing lets you feel the emotion of conflicted people dealing with loss, facing betrayal, and trying to fight LA’s legal and film giants. It’s a story of doing the right thing and making a difference instead of giving in to anger or discouragement—even though there was plenty of righteous indignation aimed at some very nasty people.