The night an explosion rattles the windows in the sleepy little lakeside town
of Baxter, GA, Jed Wilson's life falls apart. A houseboat belonging to his
best friend, Mike McConnell, has sunk into the lake with no sign of survivors.
As reports trickle in that divers have found the bodies of Mike's wife and
three children but no sign of Mike, Jed sinks deeper into an alcoholic haze.
Then a witness claims to have seen Mike at the site after the explosion. Jed's
new purpose in life is to find Mike and clear him of the murder charges
hanging over him, but he must first outwit the FBI. While the basic plot is
solid, Jed's sudden decision to quit alcohol cold turkey is no more
convincing than Mike's behavior when he is finally found. God appears mainly
in the lives of the secondary characters, such as Jed's wife, Rhonda, who
discovers faith as a way to cope with the recent tragedy, or as a deus ex
machina to solve Jed's and Mike's problems. This first novel is marginally
recommended for large, comprehensive collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners
Herman's debut novel begins a series based in the small lakeside town of
Baxter, near Atlanta. This first effort capably fulfills the series' promise
to create "an absorbing story with biblically satisfying solutions" based on
recurring characters. The story begins with a shocking tragedy when Mike
McConnell's houseboat inexplicably explodes and sinks right before the
neighbors' eyes, apparently killing all five members of his young family. But
the plot takes a sinister turn when evidence suggests there is a lone survivor
and the deaths may have been murder. The small town is beset with loss,
trauma, the FBI and the modern media circus, and each character from the
big-hearted county sheriff to the morally scrupulous local newspaper editor
is faced with difficult choices in the aftermath. Jed Wilson, Mike McConnell's
best friend and ardent drinking buddy, sets out on his own in search of the
truth. Jed's life has been sadly warped by guilt from a past transgression,
and his search for the truth of the mysterious explosion leads him down a path
of spiritual discovery. The novel's sermons about God's limitless grace are
nicely integrated with believable and sympathetic characters. Herman does wax
mystical when she introduces Secret Service-like guardian angels dressed in
plaid shirts and jeans, and her prose sometimes feels like a cross between
the television scripts for Touched by an Angel and Law and Order. Still, she
also spins an occasional line of real beauty, hinting at the poet that she is.
(Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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