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Archive for the ‘Evangelists’ Category

Two things I’m not a big fan of—religious, evangelistic, cult mysteries and very tense drama, and yet Freedom’s Child a debut novel by Jax Miller, which contains both of the above, had me riveted. It is tense from beginning to end.FreedomsChild

The prologue, which you should go back and read again after you finish the book, begins “My name is Freedom Oliver and I killed my daughter. It’s surreal, honestly, and I’m not sure what feels more like a dream, her death or her existence. I’m guilty of both.” From there you learn that Freedom is accused of murdering her NYPD husband, served two years in jail before investigators found and convicted someone else for the crime and Freedom was released, is under the Witness Protection Program and is living in Oregon.

Freedom describes giving up her son, Mason, and daughter, Rebekah,  for adoption when it was thought she’d spend the rest of her life in prison, how she’s managed to locate them in Kentucky and follow them on Facebook. When there is a lapse in Rebekah’s status updates, Freedom begins to worry. It is her mother’s instinct that says something is wrong and she needs to find her daughter.

Freedom’s Child is told from Freedom’s perspective and many chapters open with “My name is Freedom and……” The story is interspersed with letters written (but never mailed) to her children, flash backs to her life before the murder and her incarceration, descriptions of her husband, her derelict brothers-in-law and mother-in-law. Miller keeps the suspense flowing from the beginning through to the end. While the book is not over graphic, you know how wicked the bad guys are.

Readers experience a mother’s heartbreak at giving up her children, even if she knows it’s for the best. Readers experience the heartbreak of knowing your child is in trouble and needs your help while you are thousands of miles away. Readers understand the lengths a mother would go to help a child.

Freedom’s Child is definitely one of the best books of the year.

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There’s something about Boston P.I.s. They’re so ethical. When they make a Rescuepromise, they keep it, whether it be Parker’s Spenser, Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie or Healy’s John Cuddy. In Rescue, Cuddy is on Route 93 heading home when he sees a young girl (Melinda) and younger boy (Eddie) by the side of the road, their car with a flat tire. He pulls over and changes the tire.

Melinda and Eddie go off to the woods by the road side for a bit and a man in a blue pickup truck stops to see whether he can help. However, he seems more interested in the car and its occupants than helping. Having already finished changing the tire, Cuddy declines the offer and the man speeds on his way.

The next day, when Melinda’s body is found washed up on a river bank in Boston with her car nearby, Cuddy has his suspicions. Eddie, however, is nowhere to be found. Cuddy must honor his promise to Eddie, who asked “If I ever get lost or anything, would you come help me?” It reminds Cuddy, a Vietnam vet, of an unkept promise he made to one of his fellow soldiers three decades earlier.

Cuddy’s search takes him from the woods of New Hampshire to the Florida Keys and involves an evangelist, Royel Wyeth and his Church of the Lord Vigilant. It seems that Royel is ‘studying’ the Mark of Cain, a birthmark that makes Eddie a good subject.

While I enjoyed Rescue, I did have to suspend belief as I neared the end of the book. Actually, any mystery I read that has an evangelical bent to it forces me to suspend belief. Maybe that’s just me.

However, I really like John Cuddy as a character and Healy as a writer. There’s enough rough stuff, but it’s not overdone. There’s also the ‘typical girl comes on to P.I.’ stuff, but also not overdone. While Cuddy may not be as smart-mouthed as Spenser, he’s no dope and is not easily intimidated.

Rescue is the ninth book in the Cuddy series. I had probably read all the books in the series previously, but since Healy committed suicide earlier this year, I’ve re-read two of the books, the other one being the first in the series, Blunt Darts. If you’re looking for a good, entertaining mystery read, you really can’t go wrong with a Jeremiah Healy/John Cuddy mystery.

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