Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Faithful Unto Death and Safe From Harm: Sugar Land Mysteries

It's been awhile since I blogged regularly, but I've been feeling  nudged to begin again and what better way to do that then to share a couple of favorites from my recent reading with my Gentle Readers.

Faithful Unto Death and Safe From Harm are two new mysteries featuring a minister sleuth set in my own town of Sugar Land, Texas. "Everything is perfect in Sugar Land, except it's not" is the theme of this new series.

Walker "Bear" Wells is the head pastor of the mega-size Church of Christ in this upscale suburban master-planned community. A former University of Texas football player, he lives with his wife Annie Laurie, his rebellious younger daughter Jo, and his Newfoundland dog  and texts regularly to his college age  daughter Merrie away at Texas Tech. Rounding out the continuing cast of characters is the church secretary Rebecca and her two badly behaved porcine pugs, and local Detective James Wanderley who Bear clashes with frequently.

Stephanie Jaye Evans is the daughter of a Church of Christ minister and a long-time resident of Sugar Land. In fact, she lived down the street from one of my best friends. She wrote the first book, Faithful Unto Death, as the capstone project for her masters degree in liberal studies at Rice University and it won the 2010 William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers. No, I never heard of that award before either, but I'm not surprised because both of these mysteries establish that Evans has serious literary chops as well as being a master story-teller.

My RevGals who enjoy mysteries featuring clergy amateur sleuths will really love these two books. Bear, his faith, his family, his neighbors and his church are portrayed realistically and not sentimentally. Trust a PK (preacher's kid) to understand the humanity beneath the collar. Texans, Houstonians and Sugar Landers will particularly enjoy the familiar places, people and attitudes they will find in the books.

There is a clear progression and development of characters from Faithful Unto Death to Safe From Harm that I expect to see continue with the next book. The mysteries have unexpected twists and turns and the conclusions have some ambiguity--just like real life.

I can't wait for the third book in this series!