This first novel in a new series by Mapes is a character study of three men, interwoven with action and suspense. Jack is an investigative reporter for a newspaper in a relatively small town in Ohio. He is assigned the story of Evan, a pastor who has disappeared, having left what appears to be a suicide note. But Jack's life is interrupted by a break-in at his home. His wife, Pam, and two young daughters manage to escape to neighbors. But the break-in is not a one time event. The man stalks Pam and the suspense heightens. It comes to light that the stalker is someone Pam knew in high school, a maladjusted student named Granger.
As the novel progresses, we follow the lives of Jack, Evan, and Granger. Of particular importance is the spiritual lives of these men. Jack is a good Christian but struggles with his belief in God when Pam is kidnapped. Evan is a pastor who struggles with depression. He is overwhelmed with the problems at his church and is devastated that he has experienced romantic feelings for a widow he was counseling. Granger had a horrible childhood, being mistreated by his overly strict and narrow minded Christian parents. He remembers Pam as the only person who was nice to him so now, years later, he seeks her out. The lives of these three men and their actions intersect several times as the novel nears its end.
Mapes has created realistic and seriously flawed characters. Jack practically goes crazy when Pam is kidnapped. His faith in God is severely tested and he finds no comfort or peace from that faith. Evan has recently taken himself off his depression medication and is making irrational decisions.
Granger is probably the most troubling character to me. He was raised in a Christian home but by parents who must have hated him. His father was a deacon in the church but a mean man. Granger was terribly scarred by his "Christian" parents. I was troubled that church going, Bible believing Christians would be portrayed as so mean and horrible.
The character that I liked the least was Pam, Jack's wife. I find that an author writing a character of the opposite sex sometimes gets it wrong and I think Mapes did that with Pam. She is generally a smart and competent woman but there were times when she made the most stupid decisions. As a woman myself, I would never drive by the childhood home of the person stalking me, especially knowing that he was on the run and might, in fact, go back to that home.
And that brings up another issue that bothered me. There is a great deal of suspense in this novel. The suspense at the end was great. However, much of that suspense, especially with Pam, was because of stupid choices. I love it when the "innocent" character is in dire straits through no fault of her own and the suspense builds as rescue seems impossible. But when the person has made a stupid decision, putting herself into the dire straits, well, somehow the suspense looses its impact.
While the ending seemed contrived, there was the undercurrent of God orchestrating the whole thing so it was acceptable.
People who like suspense will like this novel. Be prepared, however, for pages of the characters thinking at length about their situation. Also, be prepared to see many Christians not at their best.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Fear Has a Name is my introduction into the writing world of author Creston Mapes. The storyline presented has many reflections on the choices believers have, especially when confronted with evil. The antagonist is a man named Granger who was raised in a home without the love of Christ, love of family and emotional abuse at home as well as school. Therefore, Granger learns how to survive in life without anyone close to him, except for one woman he wants to be his, Pamela Wagner.
Fighting the war within him, Granger acts more out of fear than anything rational. He believes the lies that are told to him. He was bullied to the max by others when he was young. The only one to show true friendship was Pam; she showed honest friendship though never really knowing what horrors awaited him when he would go home to his parents. Her impact on him many years ago drives him to make unwise choices, culminating in breaking and entering. Granger also displays his knowledge of her life over the years, causing Pam to choose to believe or not believe God would protect her.
Pamela's husband Jack is a first rate journalist who loves the Lord, Pam and their two daughters. Pam's family life is anything but normal though not in same way as Granger's. Jack is someone who shows her what real faith looks like. Now, with his family being threatened and scared all the time, Jack has to decide what the right decisions are in leading his family through the various trials they are facing.
Evan is a pastor at a Methodist church and married to a wonderful woman, raising three wonderful boys. Evan battles depression and tries to lead his flock with unwavering devotion, though the associate pastor has other more sinister plans. Evan decides to leave it all behind, including his family because he believes lies whispered in his ear. On one particular night, he is visited by an elderly lady who used to steer Evan to the path God has for him.
Throughout the novel, the characters are wrestling with their fears, faith and lives which aren't what they thought they would be. Somehow the different characters and situations keep presenting the choice of believing God is in control or not. The fears, if allowed to control a person, would seem to cripple their lives; peace in their souls is nonexistent. I read straight through this novel, seeing what would happen in the story and how the threats to the characters pushing them to the precipice of believing God or not. Though I was aware I was reading a work of fiction, I couldn't help but see how all of us have choices to make decisions based on His Word, with the true love of others upholding us in some of our darkest hours. The suspense, action, times of romance and emotionally packed scenes just wouldn't let me put it down! Creston Mapes has a new follower for his novels that are in some ways beyond description.
Do I really have to write more? Okay I will. This book has to be the best suspense novel I have read this year, maybe ever. If you like Terri Blackstock or Brandilyn Collins, you will LOVE this book.
If you don't care for suspense and high drama, crime, raw brokenness than you might not like this book. But if that is up your alley you need to grab a copy and get reading.
It reached a point in the twisted plot that I said out loud, "Oh my goodness" and my husband looked at me to ask "what?" I had to launch into the plot and what just happened.
Every chapter takes you on a new twist and turn. Just when you think things might slow down, oh no, you are in for more nail-biting tension. You know it will end, but how, who will live, who will die, who will cross the line?
I have never read a fiction book that actually stirred my spirit with Biblical truth. This book drips with truth but never preaches at you.
The characters are real, flawed. They question if God is so good why is this stuff happening? If God is so good why is there abuse? If God is so good how can He allow horrible things happen to those who love Him? Real questions we have all asked.
Honestly, at the end I cried. I never thought I would cry after reading a suspense novel, but the love of Jesus does that. Creston ended the book beautifully, truly fantastic.
And there is a HUGE Genesis 5020 coming from the subplot character, Evan McDaniel. Love it!
Yes, I know I am gushing but this book really is amazing. You won't be sorry you read it.
A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher through the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance in exchange for an honest review.
What a terrific read! Creston Mapes knows how to create suspense; yet, at the same time, he knows just when to cut the tension. Two intricate story lines are interwoven: the stalking of a newspaper reporter's family and a megachurch's missing pastor.
When trouble comes his way, Jack Crittendon sometimes wonders if God is really in control. How can God allow bad things to happen to one of His people? And, for what reason might trouble come our way? Jack tends to feel as if he alone is responsible for the protection and safety of his wife, Pam, and their children. Jack's faith is sorely tested in this novel, and questions most people wonder are answered. The complex tale has a satisfying conclusion.
The novel tests the reader. I found myself wondering what I'd do if confronted by the same situations. How important is abiding faith? How deep is mine? Could God use someone who is at the end of his/her rope? Does forgiveness and love really make a difference?
Characters are fleshed out; I could relate to all but one. The character of Valerie Belinds McShane intriques me. She would make for an interesting discussion in a book club setting.
Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and David C. Cook for my copy.
If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.
I love it when I can find out truly suspenseful novel that completely grabs me from the moment I dive into the book. I made the mistake of reading this one kinda late at night when I was home alone and with every noise in the house, set me literally on edge. That in my own personal opinion is already a winner. In the latest novel by author Creston Mapes, Fear Has A Name is the first in the Crittendon Files series. This is also a first for me reviewing a book by this author but after this one, it won't be my last by a long shot. In fact, I intend to search for the ones he has previously written and begin my journey in suspense even further by adding them to my personal collection.
In Fear Has A Name the author really challenges the Christian reader to see just how far on the righteous scale you would tend to stay despite having your family threatened by an unknown intruder. Despite how Jesus has instructed his followers to forgo taking their own vengeance and instead leaving it up to God. This is a definite conversation starter for most believers. While almost everyone I spoke with said pretty much the same thing, very few could sit back faithfully and be reassured that God would protect their families by leaving things entirely up to Him. With that being said, let me introduce you to the premise of this novel.
Pamela Crittendon is home alone with her young daughters, Faye and Rebecca when a man appears at her front door. For whatever reason, she gets a feeling that she shouldn't open the door. When he keeps on knocking her daughters want to know who's at the door. She instructs them to head back upstairs and that she will deal with it. When she yells for the man at the door to leave, he immediately begins the process of breaking down the door. When that fails, he breaks the glass on either side and attempts to unlock the door. Pamela takes her girls and runs out the back door to the safety of a neighbors home and calls the police.
When the police arrive the man is gone of course. As Pamela calls her husband, Jack, and tells him to come home, he reassures her that this is probably just a one time deal. The only items missing from her home are her Bible, her jewelry and her daughter's locket. All other items in the home of any value are still there. The police feel confident that they will find the person responsible, but that does make Pamela feel any safer. Even more troubling is the job her husband does working as a reporter for the local paper. He's been assigned a possible missing person who is the local pastor at a church who has left a suicide note. But it seems like things are about to get interesting when Pamela finds their wedding picture has been cut to remove Jack from it. To her, this doesn't seem like a random event and she's just about to learn that Fear Has A Name!
I received Fear Has A Name by Creston Mapes compliments of David C Cook Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation for a favorable review. This was such a great conversation starter for my husband over breakfast one morning. It's such a difficult thing to know what anyone would do in this situation and my husband could definitely relate to how Jack handles things. I on the other hand, don't think I could deal with things as calmly as Pamela did during portions of the novel but that is what makes for a truly exciting page turner. This one does not disappoint. The only thing I had to make sure of was finishing it before my husband left on his business trip. For that reason I give this one a 5 out of 5 stars. Congratulations Creston Mapes, you definitely had me on the edge of my seat and reading this one with all the lights on.