Wednesday, May 23, 2007

CFBA novel of the week: Snitch, by Rene Gutteridge

Old School meets New School meets Homeschool

Just shy of retirement and a well-earned pension, Las Vegas Police Department Sergeant Ron Yeager's definition of "active duty" involves shifting his bad leg into a more comfortable position. But when he's requested from his mind-numbing desk job to head an undercover auto theft task force, the former narcotics officer determines to prove he's still got the right stuff.

That is...until he meets his unlikely team of officers.

As Yeager soon finds out, not all the crazies are on the street. An undercover rookie, the audaciously honest Mackenzie "Mack" Hazard sends Yeager's blood pressure skyrocketing by wearing her faith like an ever-present badge. Then there's Jesse Lunden, a maverick undercover officer who refuses to learn anything from an old guy with a cane. Can this tangle of egos and eccentrics be trained into a lean, mean, crime-fighting machine...even while they are being drawn into something much bigger and more dangerous than anyone imagined?

In her trademark style, Rene Gutteridge blends zany, original characters, sincere faith, and surprising plot twists into one hilariously addictive read.

Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers. She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge (Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1: Scoop (WaterBrook Press).

She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.


Normally in a “Christian” novel, the protagonist is the character who undergoes a change over the course of the book, who grows in some way or overcomes an enormous obstacle. Not so here. Mack Hazard, cop and would-be undercover agent, stays pretty much the same—solid in her Christian beliefs. It’s her co-workers who are confronted with God and the emptiness in their own lives, one in particular.

I didn’t like this story as much as Scoop, partially because the focus remained on the cops’ operation, not Mack. Ron, Jesse and numerous other characters got lots of POV time. I’m sure the author intended just that, though it didn’t work for me. Also, there were some moments I disbelieved some of the character’s dialogue or reactions.

All in all though, Snitch is a good read. Gutteridge has a unique sense of humor that anyone should find endearing, and the plot moved along at just the right pace. Fans of suspense, humor and crime novels will no doubt enjoy this lighthearted story.

The Book Link

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Review of Flashpoint, by Frank Creed

Frank Creed, founder of The Lost Genre Guild--home of biblical speculative fiction, releases his debut novel in September. This story is cyber-punk, for those of you who know what that is. To me it's kind of like sci-fi with a comic book flair. If you want original, this is for you.


Jen and Dave live in an America where the government is their bitter enemy. In a nation where Christian Fundamentalists are labeled “terrorists”, they must go underground to survive. Their sympathizer parents, on the verge of being captured and thrown into a Rehab, stash Jen and Dave under an overpass, hoping they can evade Peacekeepers long enough to be rescued.

Every believer has a place in the Body of Christ and Dave and Jen find theirs as “Calamity Kid” and “e-girl.” They find an underground group of “fundies” who use the latest technology available to penetrate the enemy and regain contact with their families, while also reaching lost souls with seemingly no hope.

Told from Calamity Kid’s POV, the story chronicles his move from obscurity to valuable member of the fundie team. He must learn to use his new abilities within the BOC to help accomplish its goals, one being to save he and his sister’s parents from the Rehab Ward.

I admit I was a bit lost in this novel, primarily because I’ve never read “cyberpunk” before. The fight scenes proved sufficiently confusing to me because of the use of future weaponry However, that doesn’t mean Creed doesn’t write well. On the contrary, he gives us likeable characters, a believable futuristic plot and a plethora of his patented witty one-liners. The ending was predictable, but hey, I like happy endings.

It’s basically a story of persecution, survival and learning to use one’s Spirit-given gifts to encourage and assist Christ’s body of believers in the world. That theme with a post-Christian era as a backdrop made for a very original book. I applaud Creed for his originality, doing his part to again bring the lost genre of speculative fiction to light.

Frank's website
The Lost Genre Guild

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

CFBA presents: Tribulation House, by Chris Well



Mark Hogan has it all. The job. The family. A position on the board at church. All he’s missing is a boat. Not just any boat—a 2008 Bayliner 192.

When Reverend Daniel Glory announces that the Rapture is taking place on October 17 at 5:51am, Hogan realizes his boat–buying days are numbered. So he does what any man in his situation would do—he borrows a load of money from the mob.

Not that there’s any risk involved: After all, when the Rapture comes, Hogan will be long gone. The mob will never find him.

But when Jesus fails to come back on schedule, Mark Hogan finds the mob is in no mood to discuss the finer points of end–times theology...

Chris Well’s laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers appeal to the millions of readers who gobble up the rollicking crime fiction of Janet Evanovich and Elmore Leonard. TRIBULATION HOUSE does not disappoint!


Chris Well is a fellow member of the CFBA and founder of its sister organization, FIRST. He is an acclaimed novelist and award–winning magazine editor and has previously written the “laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers” Deliver Us from Evelyn and Forgiving Solomon Long(one of Booklist’s Top 10 Christian Novels of 2005). He has also contributed to 7ball, Infuze, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Chris and his wife live in Tennessee, where he is hard at work on his next novel.

The book link


The title of this novel is a bit deceiving--it sounds like some sort of weird horror tale. How far from the truth! This screams comedy from page one. Tribulation House is just a name for the interactive end-times multimedia presentation/witnessing tool the main character's church is putting on. The show is secondary. Mark Hogan's problems (presented in tongue-in-cheek fashion) resulting from the lack of a timely rapture dominate the book.

It's risky taking such serious spiritual matter and turning it into almost a farce. But Well came out the victor after walking such a fine line. The humor makes his points easier to swallow.

I also like how Well uses first person POV for the main character but switches to third for the other POV characters. It was very effective. I've not read a lot of crime fiction (or however one would classify TH), but I love Well's borderline irreverent style and engaging storytelling. A good read.