Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nothing to Hide

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Nothing to Hide
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)

J. Mark Bertrand

J. Mark Bertrand lived in Houston, where the series is set, for fifteen years, earning an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Houston. But after one hurricane too many he left for South Dakota. Mark has been arrested for a crime he didn't commit, was the foreman of one hung jury and served on another that acquitted Vinnie Jones of assault. In 1972, he won an honorable mention in a child modeling contest, but pursued writing instead.


A grisly homicide. An international threat.

The stakes have never been higher for Detective Roland March.

The victim's head is missing, but what intrigues Detective Roland March is the hand. The pointing finger must be a clue--but to what? According to the FBI, the dead man was an undercover asset tracking the flow of illegal arms to the Mexican cartels. To protect the operation, they want March to play along with the cover story. With a little digging, though, he discovers the Feds are lying. And they're not the only ones.

In an upside-down world of paranoia and conspiracy, March finds himself dogged by injury and haunted by a tragic failure. Forced to take justice into his own hands, his twisting investigation leads him into the very heart of darkness, leaving March with nothing to lose--and nothing to hide.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Nothing to Hide, go HERE.

Mark Bertrand pulls out all the stops in his latest (and final?) Roland March mystery. Seemingly ripped from the headlines, this novel was written before news of Operation Fast and Furious came to light. March thinks he's investigating just another of Houston's grisly murders when suddenly he finds himself immersed in the world of FBI covert operations and Mexican cartels. Unlike the first two novels when he was the odd man out and fighting for respect among his peers, Nothing to Hide opens with March back on duty with full privileges -- until a new captain and a horrific event sideline March once again, making him persona non grata at HPD. In his trademark style, he continues his quest on his own, delving deeper into a world where he's not sure whom he can trust. In the midst of such darkness, a ray of hope glimmers in the pending birth expected by Carter & Gina Robb, the couple who lived in March's garage apartment in a previous book. And although Carter's influence resulted in March's wife, Charlotte, finding her faith, March still isn't sold as he wrestles with evil on the streets of Houston and beyond.

As with all of Mark Bertrand's books, I couldn't put this one down. Plenty of twists and turns and a bevy of characters kept me rapidly turning pages; starting it when I was still a bit "under the influence" of lingering anesthesia and pain medicines made me work a bit harder to keep up, but it was worth the effort. This is not a casual read. References to Dante and philosophical musings and discussions intertwine with fast-paced action; no scene, no conversation is wasted as the layers build and weave together--including carefully placed flashbacks to 1986, when March served in the military. Bertrand has once again created an edgy thriller that will delight lovers of suspense and intrigue as well as those who like an intellectual read. Traditional Christian fiction lovers may be less satisfied with the philosophical (as opposed to Biblical) tones and lack of redemption. For me personally, I don't expect or require that every Christian novel end with the character(s) becoming a believer. I was a bit disappointed that a hope/belief that March expressed in the story, which essentially promoted a works-based judgment, was not countered. I would be cautious about handing this book to a non-believer without serious follow-up discussion. However, if you are looking for a gripping read this summer, you'll be covered as long as you've got Nothing to Hide!

My interview with Mark Bertrand from last year's ICRS show (where he explains about being arrested for the crime he didn't commit!) is here.

You can read my review of the first book in this series, Back on Murder, here and my review of the second novel, Pattern of Wounds (a Christy Award Finalist!), here.


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