Monthly Reads | March 2016

 Reading on tablet.

A Fool and His Monet by Sandra Orchard

Christian Fiction | Mystery | Suspense

Serena Jones is the newest member of the FBI's Art Crime Squad. After completing her first undercover case, Jones is swept into solving an art theft case at the local museum. With the help of her mentor and the unwanted help of friends and family time is running out to find the thief and recover the stolen art.

I enjoyed this novel. This is a clean mystery, with very little violence. It focuses on the mystery and alludes to a love triangle, that I'm sure will surface in future novels. Although I found the pace a bit slow at times, there was a good mixture of mystery and humor to keep me interested.

This book has been classified as suspense, but I didn't feel that the action ever got suspenseful. I was intrigued by the story and wanted to solve the crime myself, but didn't think any plot developed into a high tension level.

I loved the characters Orchard created. Serena’s family was especially cute and it was nice to the dynamics of different personalities play out.

Overall, I thought the plot was good, the characters were entertaining, and the mystery had some twists. I look forward to reading more about Serena Jones.


My Father's Son by John Davis

Autobiography | Memoir

John Davis did not grow up in the most loving household. His father was verbally and physically abusive and a drug dealer. My Father's Son is written in two parts. The first provides scenes of Davis' childhood and interaction with his father. The second part tells a story of enlightenment and a family secret revealed during Davis' adulthood.

My Father's Son is a heartbreaking story of abuse. I am still in shock over this story. Davis paints a clear image of his father's personality and brutality. Readers will witness many events, spanning over years, that show what life was like growing up in the Davis household. The focus is primarily on the father, but some stories involve the mother figure as well. Each chapter covers a different experience and Davis does a great job storytelling within those, however the transitions from chapter to chapter are a bit disconnected. As we enter the second half of this novel, the focus shifts away from the father figure  and delves into a family dynamic.

I would liked to have seen more of the narrator in this novel. We learn a lot about the family members, but I feel that Davis is holding back on his emotions. Without giving the secret away, I will say that Davis opens up about his feelings and the impact of his upbringing at the very end (especially the epilogue). I just wish we saw this more in the first half - a more personal connection to the narrator versus an outsider looking in subjectively.

I enjoyed this novel. It isn't something I would normally pick up, but I am happy to have read it. Davis had a story tell and he did so successfully.


Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

Christian Fiction | Mystery | Thriller

In Atlanta, Private investigator Trudi Coffey is visited by a mysterious Dr. Smith who is looking for a man. Dr. Smith thinks she knows where to find the target. Coffey knows her ex-husband, Sam Hill, probably does.

In Alabama, Annabel Lee is woken by her uncle and hidden in an underground bunker on their property. He gives her the only key and tells her not to open the door for anyone without the safe code. She doesn’t know how long she will be there.

Events from the past converge and the mystery of Dr. Smith’s identity and Annabel Lee’s survival are left in the hands of ex-spouses Coffey & Hill.

Annabel Lee is a fantastic book with continuous action and plot twists. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character. Sometimes sequences overlap, but for the most part the chapters run chronologically. Nappa has done a wonderful job providing tidbits of information to the readers, while the characters might not yet know their connections. Although I did find aspects of the plot predictable, overall this novel keeps the reader guessing. Just when you think the characters are safe, more trouble ensues.

This novel is considered a Christian mystery. It is actually the first I have read of this genre. There are elements of Christianity and spiritual faith throughout, but it is a small aspect that any reader can enjoy the story without feeling preached to.

Fun fact: Annabel Lee” is a poem written by Edgar Allen Poe. Nappa, a Poe fan, incorporates Poe’s poem into the novel in many clever ways. I enjoyed drawing connections between the poem and this novel. I won’t spoil the connections for you, but look out for them while you read. It looks like the next Coffey & Hill novel is titled Raven, so I am excited to see how that Poe poem is intertwined with it (if at all).

Note: This post contains affiliate links. I received complimentary copies of these books for free from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.