So I've looked at this book for a long time and never could bring myself to sitting down and actually opening to the first page. Why? I don't know, really. It could be the cover, the content or just my procrastination gene kicking in. In the end, I did sit down and open the book and I will admit, I didn't get much sleep for the next couple of days.
What would you do if you were the only person that knew one of the biggest secrets of all time? Would you tell somebody? Would it eat away at you every day? Would you take the secret to your grave? Margaret Baker was faced with that very dilemma when she was in Dallas and filmed something on her camera. Once the news spread about the assassination of President Kennedy, she thought back to her camera and what she may have caught while she was filming. Once she had the film developed, she locked it away in a safe deposit box and never looked at it again. Now Margaret has passed and her daughter, Sheila, finds out that not only did she inherit the house and belongings of her mother, she has also inherited this national treasure. Knowing that there really isn't anyone that she can trust, Sheila hunts down Jason Hammond and enlists his help. After his initial disbelief, Jason quickly comes to her aid as Sheila's life is put in danger. Someone knows that the film exists and knows that she has it. Will Sheila and Jason be able to stay a step ahead of those after them? Is there someone that they can turn to with this lost secret? What exactly does the film show? Read the rest of my review and then run to your nearest Christian Bookstore and BUY THE BOOK!
This is not the first book by Wil Mara, but it is his first novel written as a Christian Fiction novel. This novel does everything that I would hope for in a great book. It provided me with entertainment, it embellished on something Ã¢â¬Ëfactual' to the point of making me do some research myself on that fateful day in Dallas and it left me satisfied and wanting more. It was refreshing to see the main character as a flawed person that was able to return to his faith as the story progressed. I was concerned at the end that there were going to be some big plot holes that were just glossed over (like how Jason could escape from the Coast Guard without facing persecution), but my concern was unfounded.
Is this a "guy's book"? There is so much action and adventure in this book, there's no way that this could not be considered a great "guy's book". With the mix of the historical information provided about the assassination, everybody should pick up this book and dive right in.
The story captured my attention from the beginning, with descriptions real and frightening. For some reason, the last half was not as gripping as the first for me, though parts of it did keep me glued to it. I think there was a little too much time spent on the bad guys, not enough on the main characters and their personal feelings and actions. Perhaps it would make a better movie than book, although there are some scenes that would not transfer in a godly manner into film. (The book mentioned people swearing, prostitutes, etc.) Then, the Christian aspect of the book was lacking, in my opinion, though trusting in Jesus was mentioned briefly. Catholic churches and works were too accented. However, it was in general good writing and characterization with a few twists, so I kind of liked it. And if a book succeeds in making a conservative interested in the history of someone like JFK, I guess it deserves points.
Sheila Baker inherits a recording of the Kennedy Assassination that has the potential to change her life. The recording has the possibility to incriminate a new suspect - a suspect that does not wish to be found. As a result, Sheila and her new friend, Jason Hammond, are launched into an adventure that places them in heart-pounding peril.
A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Wil Mara sends his reader into a mysterious adventure that results in white-knuckle-grip tension. The fast paced action is most prominent in the middle section of the book. A strength of the book is the evident research that was part of the book's creation. Mara artfully weaves essential pieces of history into the novel that provide information the reader must understand; yet, that history appears in such a way that does not result in fragmented transitions. In an interview with Mara, the research that was part of the book's creation is revealed:
HOW MUCH RESEARCH DID YOU DO FOR THIS PROJECT?
An unbelievable amount. I spoke with assassination experts, read literally hundreds of books and articles, pored over countless photos_you name it. My goal was to write a fictional story around the established facts rather than alter the facts to serve the story. Thus, I had to know pretty much everything. I ended up loading my brain with more data than I really needed_but I didn't mind.
Another strong point of the novel is the apparent Christian faith that runs throughout the storyline and into the character's lives. In an interview, Mara commented on this aspect of the novel:
WHAT ROLE DOES YOUR CHRISTIAN FAITH PLAY IN YOUR WRITING?
It is embedded throughout this story, in a fashion both subtle and direct. I was raised Christian and have been a firm believer all my life, so my belief system is threaded into just about everything I do. Anyone who carries even the most fundamental faith will recognize the important elements in this book. The most obvious example belongs to the main character, who recurs throughout the series he is suffering a deep crisis of faith, and the core of that crisis should be familiar to even the most devout follower. We are human, plain and simple, and as such we experience doubts about the Lord in our lifetime. So it won't be hard for anyone to connect with him.
DESCRIBE THE ROLE OF FAITH PLAYS IN YOUR MAIN CHARACTERS, SHEILA BAKER AND JASON HAMMOND.DOES THIS CHANGE AS THE STORY PROGRESSES?
With Sheila, you've got a very goodhearted person who is experiencing a critical change in her worldview. She is coming out of the Ã¢â¬Ëmoney is the most important thing in the world' phase and beginning to understand that there are much higher priorities. This isn't to say she's trumpeting the virtues of poverty (She still understands that it's important to live within a certain comfortable and respectable standard). But she's figuring out that money isn't what a person should worship, it's something altogether different. And there is a traceable and, I think, very satisfying arc to her story in this regard.
As for Jason, he suffered a tremendous loss years earlier, went through a protracted nightmare period, and is starting to come out of during the events of Frame 232. An encounter with a very unlikely source helps him to turn the corner and begin a path to renewed promise but even so, the journey ahead is going to present serious challenges for him. The good news, though, is that he has not abandoned
The good news, though, is that he has not abandoned the Lord altogether. If he had done that, there wouldn't be any conflict within him in the first place.
Readers who enjoy Mara's mystery that delves into the unsolved queries of the past, will look forward to the next novel in the Jason Hammond series that will be available in the summer of 2014.
4 (out of 5) pennies
*I received a complimentary copy of Frame 232 from Tyndale House Publisher for my honest review*