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Back on Murder (A Roland March Mystery) Paperback – July 1, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 1,512 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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

Bertrand captures a realistic view of a homicide detective's life, from the paperwork to life-threatening situations. Readers will relate to the struggles of his characters, their faltering faith and success. --Christian Retailing

In comparison to many crime series protagonists, Roland March is cast on a refreshingly human scale. If you are weary of fantastic exploits, you may find this a welcome change of pace, as I did. The Houston setting is perfect for such a character. When we first encounter March, he is struggling. Something that went awry on an earlier case has taken him off his usual beat--homicide--and he finds himself tasked with unenviable assignments. A break gives him a chance to get back to what he does best. March was appealing enough for me to overcome my resistance to novels narrated in the present tense. "I'll give it a few pages," I said, and ended up reading the entire book. --John Wilson, Books & Culture

In this first installment of a promising new series, Bertrand has given readers an intriguing plot, delightful prose, engaging dialog, and a story that's well worth reading. --Comment
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Product Details

  • Series: A Roland March Mystery
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; 1 edition (July 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764206370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764206375
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,512 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,130,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
1. Technical: This is the kind of book the Kindle was made for. The built in dictionary allowed me to quickly understand terms such as cocobolo and the note/bookmark feature allowed me to note/review my speculations on plots and twists.

2. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and its characters. Oddly enough, I was drawn to the folks that surround him more than I was to the main character Roland March. Which shows author Bertrand's skill in creating him. Detective March seems to be a real person (another piece of lettuce trying to get through this world as georgecarlinmighthavephrasedit): petty lustful mean sad caring clueless noble brave . . . real not a cardboard cutout stereotyped action/detective hero/antihero. And in the real world, we don't like everyone. And I don't care for March. But I do like the story, I do like the writing, and I would buy another Roland March book if one shows up.

(2013 update: since I wrote this review, I've purchased and read the next two in the series. Loved them and eagerly awaiting the 4th)
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Format: Paperback
An intelligent, powerful, gritty mystery with brilliant prose and an eye for vivid detail. The complex but appealing protagonist, Houston Police Detective Roland March is a man haunted by former triumphs and tragedies. In his attempt to solve both a murder and a missing persons case that may be connected, March is pitted against both the bad guys and his fellow police officers, and he tenaciously fights for his survival. Boasting a rich cast of compelling characters, the author weaves a complex plot and intricate subplots, exploring the depths of evil, corruption, forgiveness, and love. I eagerly await the next Roland March mystery. No serious reader of crime novels should miss this one, especially fans of authors James Lee Burke and Michael Connelly. Well done.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I got this Kindle book on a whim when it was free, and I'm now excited to buy or rent the next installment. It's not your typical murder mystery--it's more of a character study than anything else. However, the characters are interesting enough, as is the storytelling, that I didn't mind the lack of surprises or twists. I had a near 100% success rate on guessing what the reveals would be as the story went along, but that still didn't mean I had all my questions answered or knew *how* everything happened, so I still never felt cheated.

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!
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Format: Paperback
From the cover:
Houston homicide detective Roland March was once one of the best. Now he's disillusioned, cynical, and on his way out. His superiors farm him out on a variety of punishment details . . . until an unexpected break gives March one last chance to sve his career. And his humanity.
All he has to do? find the missing teenage daughter of a Houston evangelist that every cop in town is already looking for. But March has an inside track, a multiple murder nobody else thinks is connected. battling a new partner, and old nemesis, and the demons of his past, getting to the truth could cost March everything. Even his life.

My thoughts:
Wow. Gritty. Realistic.
Roland March is desperate to get back on murder duty. Weaseling his way into a murder scene, he's ignored and forgotten, but the only one to find the evidence that a girl was held kidnapped in the house. Rabid for his old job, he does all but beg to be placed on this case.

Instead he's assigned to find Hannah Mayhew, the missing daughter of Houston's famous evangelist. His final day with the police's Cars for Criminals detail, he hauls in one criminal, and unknowingly, lets the real criminal go.

In the midst of is work problems, March is dealing with his own personal demons, the vehicular homicide of his daughter, the apparent distance between he and his wife, the friction from his one-time work partner, and the dope-using, partying renter that lives above his garage. His wife's dissatisfied with him, with how he handles--or won't handle--their renter, and he can't come to terms with his daughter's death.

His theories are varied, but his motive is right. Especially if it means bringing down those who should be standing shoulder to shoulder with him.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Back On Murder by J. Mark Bertrand is a murder mystery extraordinaire. Houston detective Roland March is disillusioned and misunderstood, relegated to special assignments nobody else wants. He gets his big chance for redemption when he is assigned to a missing person's case - one which he thinks is connected to a drug murder; but proving it might just cost him his life. Beyond a very engaging story line with plenty of plot twists and surprises, Bertrand's writing style is masterful. His voice is fresh, descriptive, insightful and never, ever cliché. Coming from a Christian publisher, I can honestly say that this book will appeal to the masses, no matter what one's religious stripe. There are some Christian characters in the book, but they are portrayed as real people and there is never a preachy moment. This is achieved, I think, by the use of the first person narrative. Since the main character himself is not a believer, he is simply observing the behavior of those around him, weighing their worth on a human level. This novel deserves a five star rating, without a doubt.
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