Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Book Review: The Buck Stops Here by Mindy Starns Clark (Million Dollar Mysteries #5)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Plot grabs from page one and doesn't let go.
Cons: A little slower in the second half, but only worth noting in passing.
The Bottom Line:
Can't put this one down
Very suspenseful story
Character we love

Bet You a Buck You Won't be able to Stop Reading Callie's Most Personal Case Yet

Four years ago, Callie Webber's world was shattered when her husband was killed in a boating accident. A man named James Sparks was out boating drunk and didn't even see Brian in the water. Since that horrible day, Callie has managed to recover from her grief, partially thanks to her job investigating charities for the J.O.S.H.U.A Foundation on behalf of her boss, Tom Bennett. Tom and Callie have also fallen in love, and Callie hopes to marry him soon.

Ten days ago, Callie overheard a conversation where Tom took responsibility for Brian's death. Shocked, Callie asks for an explanation, only to be told that Tom can't tell her anything because of his work for the NSA. Brian's accident is a matter of national security? How can this be?

While Tom can't tell Callie anything, he does encourage her to poke around on her own, which she immediately starts to do. Almost immediately, she begins to discover that the things she thought she knew about that fateful day aren't true. Following the faint trail she can find, she begins to piece together an entirely different picture of events. But what exactly is Tom's roll in all of this? Will God help her forgive him or will Callie turn her back on Tom and God?

I must confess, this is the book in the series I've been most anxious to read since I started the series. It didn't disappoint. After the first couple chapters, which are a good introduction for those who haven't read the previous four books in the series, the action takes off. I had trouble putting the book down several nights in a row because the suspense was killing me.

About half way through, the plot moves to New Orleans and things slow down a little. After the break neck pace of the first half, it feels slow, but in actuality, things are still moving forward.

I also found this part interesting in light of the recent hurricanes. The problems that were an issue in the disaster there were discussed briefly in this book, which came out a year before hand. Just a few throw away lines, really, but they caught my attention.

Each book in the series has been personal for Callie in some way, with each one hitting closer to home. As a result, we've been able to see her grow to the point where she is strong enough to deal with the truth she learns from the investigation. Not that she doesn't go through some incredible moments of weakness and pain. Callie is a very human character, which is one of the things I have always loved about her.

Forgiveness is a very obvious theme in the book, both God's forgiveness of us as well as forgiveness of each other. It's not preachy, however, but a good reminder for every day life.

The writing style still isn't as polished as some series I read, but this time around was actually the smoothest of the series. I had no trouble reconnecting to these characters from the very first page.

While not a requirement by any means, The Buck Stops Here will be most enjoyed after reading others in the series. All of them are highly entertaining and I recommend them to Christian mystery lovers.

You'll definitely want to read the rest of the Million Dollar Mysteries in order.

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