Tag Archives: back on murder

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.

On the Bookshelf XXIII


Suttree by Cormac McCarthy
“… the story of Cornelius Suttree, who has forsaken a life of privilege with his prominent family to live in a dilapidated houseboat on the Tennessee River near Knoxville.” I really don’t know what to say about this one, except that it’s freakishly weird – like Flannery O’Conner on steroids – and I’m still trying to decide if that’s a good thing.
Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand
I usually avoid contemporary Christian fiction like the plague, simply because so much of it is face-slappingly bad. I’ve heard Bertrand’s book is a welcome exception to the rule. The Kindle edition is currently available for free, so grab it if detective novels are your thing.
Emma by Jane Austen
Because, in the words of Peter Leithart, “real men read Austen.” And they have a good time doing it, too.
Henry V by Shakespeare
With the possible exception of Coriolanus, this is easily my favorite Shakespeare play, not least for passages like this one: “The sum of all our answer is but this: We would not seek battle as we are, Nor, as we are, we say we will not shun it.”
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
“Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.” The first installment of the bestselling Expanse series – which I know nothing about, except that it has been highly praised by a number of reviewers I follow. It was, I must admit, George R.R. Martin’s blurb that piqued my interest: “It’s been too long since we’ve had a really kicka** space opera.”
Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron
Let’s just say I’m reading this one with an extreme amount of skepticism. And the endorsement from Rachel Held Evans isn’t helping any.
Saving Leonardo by Nancy Pearcey
“Is secularism a positive force in the modern world? Or does it lead to fragmentation and disintegration? In Saving Leonardo, best-selling award-winning author Nancy Pearcey makes a compelling case that secularism is destructive and dehumanizing.” If you loved Pearcey’s work in Total Truth, you’ll love it here.

What’s on your bookshelf right now?