Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mystery, thrills and suspense from contemporary Catholic writers

I was sorting through a bunch of goodies that I picked up last August at the combined Catholic Writers Guild/New Media/Marketing Network conference and thought I would pass them on to you, before I "file" them (you know what that means). Among other things, I nabbed a number of marketing cards for novels written by members of the Catholic Writers Guild, and I thought I would commend these books to your consideration (even though I have not read most of them). A few that don't get mentioned here will be noted over on my Catholic Science Fiction blog. Today, I thought I would focus on suspense and mystery titles. Here goes:

Unbridled Grace by Michael J. Norman
Unbridled Grace: A True Story about the Power of Choice, by Michael J. Norman. This one actually is not fiction, but fact. The author is a chiropractor from right here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, whose true story sounds like a best-selling thriller. Dr. Norman got dragged into a rats' nest of intrigue when he unknowingly got involved with a Russian money-laundering ring under investigation by the FBI. The book's web site describes the story this way:
Unbridled Grace is the true story of how one man rises from the forces of evil through his renewed faith in Christ and takes the reader on a journey to redemption through the bold use of our power of choice for God. Along the way, Michael meets a dynamic Catholic parish priest who gives him the courage to forge a path through this crisis and a hard-working attorney who joins him in this monumental battle. Will their efforts be enough to free the author and his family from this nightmare? It is at this time that a series of seemingly miraculous occurrences begin and the reader is shown what courage, faith and the power of heartfelt prayer can bring to all of our lives when all else appears hopeless.
Murder in The Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, by Ann Margaret Lewis, with some charming illustrations by Rikki Niehaus. I am really sorry my book-buying budget is so non-existent these days, because I would really love to read this book. As you can see, the author cashes in on the current popular trend of extending the literary lives of great characters from out-of-copyright books of the past. Who could resist a book in which Sherlock Holmes gets to sleuth for Pope Leo XIII? Here's the blurb:
Follow the great Sherlock Holmes as he investigates three baffling cases at the "express desire of his Holiness, the Pope." Stories include "The Death of Cardinal Tosca," "The Vatican Cameos," and "The Second Coptic Patriarch."
You'll encounter baffling crimes, rich, historical settings, and a fateful encounter with Father Brown!
These thrilling tales of murder and intrigue vividly bring to life three of Watson's "untold tales!"
Viper, by John Desjarlais, sports the tagline, "Who is stronger, the serpent or the virgin?" This the second mystery featuring Latina sleuth, Selena de la Cruz, a former DEA agent turned insurance investigator.
Selena De La Cruz has a problem. Just before All Souls' Day someone entered the names of nine people in her church's Book of the Dead, seeking prayers for their souls.
The problem?
All nine are still alive. Until they start getting murdered . . . one by one . . . in the precise order their names were entered in the Book of the Dead . . . and always right after a local visionary sees a mysterious woman known as The Blue Lady.
Is she the Virgin Mary warning the next victim? Lady Death, the Aztec goddess, come to claim another soul? Or someone less mystical, but deadly nonetheless?
Selena doesn't know but had better find out: only a few souls on that list have not yet been murdered, and the last name on it is . . . Selena De La Cruz.
The Soul Reader: A Novel of Suspense, by Gerard D. Webster. This novel is a sequel but, according to reader reviews, can be read as a stand-alone tale. (Don't you love it when you fall in love with a story and then discover there is more where that came from?) Apparently, in the first book, the protagonist lost his eyesight but gained the ability to see into people's souls (whence the title of this book).
It is a year after his father's murder when Carrie Hope asks Ward to assist her in writing a book about the North Beach Project, the money-laundering scheme that led to his father's death. Ward initially turns her down. ... But when Carrie decides to pursue the investigation without him, Ward is faced with a difficult choice: he can allow her to go it alone and possibly get killed . . . or he can join her in hopes of being able to protect her. Ward's uncanny insight might give him an edge-and allow him to see the evil coiled ...
Although I haven't read any of these books, they all sound like things I'd enjoy and, judging by the great reviews they get on Amazon, they are intriguing tales that embody Catholic values and themes, so I don't hesitate to bring them to your attention. If you have read any of them, please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

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