This month, I am looking at an inspirational romantic suspense book. This particular book makes a good study for those interested in the Christian fiction market for a variety of reasons. I chose to purchase the book as part of my sampling of the various online sources for Christian fiction material, in part because it looked to be suspense and looked to be an offering that, among the Christian fiction online markets, was solely offered by FamilyChristian.com.
The author, Dani Pettrey, has garnered several awards for her previous fiction, awards always being a point of recommendation for a book or the author. This book, Cold Shot, is the first in a series of books the second of which is due for release in January of 2017.
I found the book frankly disappointing. However, it makes a good study in how Christian writers need to remember their identity as writers as well as as Christians. What does that mean? It means attention paid to craft, and as the foundation of that attention paid to principles of good communication. You may remember advice from some early creative writing instruction, for instance, to try to vary the initial sound of differing character’s names. You shouldn’t have, for example, a David and a Damien in the same novel. Authors who craft their works well take that, and similar common sense rules, into account in crafting their novels and short stories.
In this book, the author breaks those common sense rules in a major way, which becomes even more troublesome in a book that is the first of the series. This diminishes reader experience of the book.
What the author does in Cold Shot is give us a minimum of four characters whose first names are normally last names (Griffin, Parker, Finley, Avery), which in a romantic suspense is particularly unwieldy. The reader spends so much energy trying to figure out the players and their genders in the first few chapters it leaves little energy for the suspense, which involves two related but separate cat-and-mouse games while the characters also work through baggage from the past.
There is certainly good Christian content, as the two protagonist viewpoint characters struggle to know the will of God in their circumstances (there are also some brief passages from antagonist viewpoints), but in the end I just found this book, while a good study, an unwieldy and disappointing read. I also purchased the book looking for suspense, but although there are suspenseful circumstances I found the emphasis to be far more on the romance than the suspense and to me the execution to some extent took the impact away from both aspects of the book.
Still, it is worth a look if for nothing else to learn from an award winning author what NOT to do in crafting Christian fiction.
In addition to FamilyChristian.com, the Chesapeake Valor series by this author, Cold Shot included, is available through Amazon.