Iola Goulton reviews Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl.
Short version (Amazon):
Sophie Wittenbauer left her strict Mennonite hometown under a cloud of shame and regret. Certain she's left her past far behind her, she's now focused on her job at a newspaper and is shocked when she stumbles upon the name of someone she knew in her old life. But when she learns the man--a prisoner--claims a suspect from a decades-old unsolved crime is hiding out in the small town of Sanctuary, Missouri, she can't resist following the lead in hopes of furthering her career.
Almost immediately upon her arrival, Sophie's confronted with a face from her past and fears her intention of using a false identity to investigate is doomed. But with the help of Sanctuary's charismatic young pastor, Sophie knows she's getting close. Will she be able to conceal the truth of her own past long enough to find the suspect before someone puts a stop--fatal or otherwise--to her investigation?
The fact I guest review on a blog called ‘Suspense Sisters Reviews’ is probably a clue that I like suspense novels. I especially like romantic suspense, and Nancy Mehl’s latest is the best romantic suspense I’ve read in a while. Yes, it’s the third in the series, but while I’ve read and the earlier two books (Gathering Shadows and Deadly Echoes), I’ve read dozens, perhaps hundreds, of novels in between, and I can’t remember all the details. No matter. Rising Darkness works equally well as a standalone novel.
There was a slightly awkward start as I realised Sophie aka Emily is lying to the good people of Sanctuary, especially the lovely woman she boards with—I don’t thing lying is consistent with Christian characters, even if Sophie/Emily and God aren’t currently on speaking terms. But this was soon sorted out to my satisfaction (I won’t say how—that would be a spoiler, after all).
I really liked the character of Jonathon Wiese, the guy the teenage Sophie fell in love with back in Kingdom, who is now the pastor of the ‘other’ (i.e. non-Mennonite) church in Sanctuary. I know there’s no such thing as a perfect pastor or perfect man, but this is fiction. He can be perfect, and he’s certainly the perfect hero as he supports Sophie/Emily in her research, and in showing her that the faults of her strict Mennonite upbringing were faults of man, not God.
The writing was excellent, and I especially liked the thoughtful and honest way the characters address issues of faith, acknowledging the evil that is in the world without diminishing it, and without diminishing God. I’ve seen a lot of CBA books recently with spiritual themes which are best described as wishy-washy, and it was good to read a Christian novel with a strong Christian message, but one which never feels preachy or unnatural, or gets in the way of the plot.
Excellent. I recommend Rising Darkness to all suspense fans (you’re reading the Suspense Sisters blog. You must be a suspense fan!)
Thanks to Baker Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
About the Reviewer, Iola Goulton:
I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Tsu .
I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).