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Back on Murder (A Roland March Mystery) Paperback – July 1, 2010
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Roland March, on the verge of being cut loose from the Houston Police Department after suffering a personal tragedy that has affected his job performance, is given one last chance after he notices evidence of a missing female victim at a gang-related multiple-murder scene. March tries to connect the female victim with Hannah Mayhew, a teenager who performed outreach work for her church and who recently disappeared from a local mall; his superiors are unconvinced, but they agree to transfer March to the Hannah Mayhew task force. He continues to investigate the connection, working under the radar, with the help of a youth pastor, to prove his suspicions. In his personal life, March tries to reconnect with his wife, who is also suffering. Carefully drawn details of police work, well-delineated characters, multiple interesting cases, and a vivid Houston setting add to the strong mystery. --Sue OBrien
"The narrative energy is relentless. The visual, cinematic style sticks to a single first-person viewpoint, a unity some contemporary thriller writers violate to their detriment. Present-tense narrative annoys some readers (including this one at times), but its sense of urgency and immediacy is effective in the March novels. Bertrand is a major crime-fiction talent--one of the best police procedural writers I've come upon in years ...." -- The Weekly Standard
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If you are an atheist or non-religious person like myself, don't let the reviews calling the book excellent Christian fiction put you off. It would have given me pause had I known the genre association before reading it, but I honestly do not see this as a Christian book at all--it's a compelling little mystery that happens to have some Christian characters and themes in it. It's a book set in Houston, Texas. It would be inauthentic and silly not to, in my opinion. At any rate, it's definitely not preachy and the main character, at least in this installment, isn't even religious. I can't speak for the rest of the series, but at least in this one, you won't be rolling your eyes nearly as much as March himself!
March makes some keen observations at scene of the murder of an inner city drug dealer. March believes that the murder is tied into a nationally covered disappearance of a teenage girl. He goes against orders to look into the angle and gets yanked off the case and on to the task force looking into the disappearance, another dead end. Can March somehow parlay his hunches, uncover the secrets of a group of crooked cops, and stay alive so that the get his career and life back on track.
The book is remarkably well-written and has high quality throughout most of it. March is a fantastic character with his own set of inner demons. March's narration varies from hard boiled wry cop sarcasm to poignancy, to vivid and powerful word images that paint as clear a picture of 21st Century Houston as Raymond Chandler's Marlowe's stories did of 1940s Los Angeles. The character does change as the story goes on. He becomes more of a team player. At the beginning of the book, his focus is really on him: The quest to get back into Homicide. As his focus shifts to the case at hand, actually getting his man leads to real cooperation.
The mystery is a clever tangled web of intrigue that intersects with crooked cops, with honest efforts to help other, and an old rival of March's that won't go away. Really, everything ties together in the end and the clues are solidly laid out.
The last quarter, and the last sixth of the book in particular do suffer a bit of a slowdown with more fizzle than sizzle. Bertrand made the dubious decision to fill in a bunch of back story details towards the end of the book as we were closing in on the killers and a hurricane kills not one by two birds for our hero. These are minor issues given how good the rest of the book was.
The book is from a Christian company, but has little Christian material. March is a moral man but not a believer. The best Christians get from the book is a murder mystery that doesn't make a Christian look like a psycho. The book is a clean read as far as profanity goes and doesn't go for overly graphic
Overall, I enjoyed the book immensely and will be watching for the next book in the series.
Most recent customer reviews
I would skip this one