Book Review: Back on Murder

6a00e3981f1e3988330120a665667d970c-800wiDetective Roland March is a homicide cop on his way out. But when he’s the only one to notice evidence of a missing female victim at a gang-related multiple-murder scene, he finds the second chance he’s been looking for.

March connects the female victim with another case involving the disappearance of Hannah Mayhew, teenage daughter of a famous Houston evangelist. None of his superiors are convinced, but they agree to transfer March to the Hannah Mayhew task force.

From there – in the immortal words of Barney Fife – things go “kablooie.”

Back on Murder is a great book. Not a great book “for a religious book,” but a great book, period. A rare and most welcome example of contemporary Christian fiction that does not induce vomiting.

That was harsh, but I meant every word.

Mr. Betrand manages to avoid the literary potholes that plague so many Christian novelists, by which I mean… wait a sec. Forget I said anything about potholes. We’re really talking about ditches, and the fact that Christians today are generally the dumbest drivers in the writing world. We seem to have forgotten what it means to tell a good story; but we sure as heck know what a tract looks like. I hope your airbag is working.

Back on Murder is not a tract. It’s a smart, well-written, and utterly unPreachy (yes, I made that word up ) piece of detective fiction. The characters aren’t cut from fiberboard, the plot is genuinely compelling – and not in a ‘waiting for the conversion scene’ way – and the dialogue is alive and kicking, even if the bodies are not.

Like I said, it’s just a great book.

Roland March himself is one of the book’s gems, mainly because he isn’t one. To adapt a line from Lemony Snicket, March is like a chef’s salad, “with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.” He’s proud, petty, stubborn, brave, heroic, and broken. He’s looking for redemption, a chance to get ‘back on murder’ before he gets cut loose.

But there is more than one kind of redemption. And by the end of the story, March has caught a glimpse of the kind with a capital R.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Back on Murder”

  1. “…Christians today are generally the dumbest drivers in the writing world. We seem to have forgotten what it means to tell a good story…..”
    ^THAT. THAT. THAT.

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