CFBA Tour: Nothing to Hide

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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.

ABOUT THE BOOK

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.

My thoughts: I’ve really been looking forward to reading this book, the third in the Roland March series (and I hope not the last). Unfortunately, I have not yet received my review copy so have not had a chance to read it. But I wanted to share the book information and encourage others to check out this and the earlier books in the series, Back on Murder and Pattern of Wounds. If you enjoy detective stories such as Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, you’ll enjoy these.

I’ll share my thoughts on Nothing to Hide once I’ve read it.

Common English Bible

For the column I just posted about my family, I used the Common English Bible for the Scripture. I usually prefer the ESV, but I’ve been using the CEB some over the last few months and have found it quite readable. If you’d like to know more about the translation, here are a few links:

A video: http://www.youtube.com/commonenglishbible

Search on Bible Gateway: http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Common-English-Bible-CEB/

I appreciate the readability of the translation and think it would be quite accessible for someone who is new to Bible reading.

(Note: I received a copy of the Common English Bible for review. This post is part of the “Common English Bible Change Your Heart and Life” blog tour.)

Old pictures and fond memories

My dad with me and my brothers, Tim and Jim, in Bowen, Ill., sometime in the early 1960s.

Because you are sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and if you are his child, then you are also an heir through God. (Gal. 4: 6-7, Common English Bible)


I’ve been scanning old family photos and it’s been an entertaining experience. Besides coming across such classic 1960s images as my brothers and I in Indian headdresses (not sure why we had those) or me wearing my light blue cat-eye glasses, I’ve found some sweet photos of my parents as young parents themselves. There’s one from the early 1960s of my dad with the three of us out in our yard on a sunny Sunday morning. It might have been Easter, judging by the rather pristine quality of my brother Tim’s suit and my dress. Jim looks like he’s about 2, so Tim must be about 4 and I would be 5 ½. Dad is looking at the camera, but he’s also got his fingers on Jim’s shoulders to keep him from wandering off. (Jim seldom stayed still for long.) It’s a cute picture, but it also reminds me of how much my family’s life revolved around the church. Dad was a minister, so I suppose that was natural. But we grew up understanding that even if Dad had been a carpenter or a farmer, we would have been in church every time the doors were open. While I may have resented it at times, I’m thankful now that my parents modeled a life of faith for us. They loved and served God and taught us to do the same. I know not everyone has had a father that modeled the Christian life, but we all have a heavenly father who has chosen us as his sons and daughters. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we can know true freedom. I hope on this Father’s Day you’ll remember that God offers healing and hope no matter kind of family we come from.

In which I return to the blog after a long absence

I’ve been away from the windowsill for a while. Some of it is life, some of it laziness. But I’m feeling the need to write and this is a good place to do it. So I think I’ll give this another try.

A few good links from the last couple of days:

Jeffrey Overstreet on art and faith and kitsch. He always makes me think.

A good basketball story about a former NBA player coaching at the college level.

I will be back.

CFBA: Pattern of Wounds

With the second book featuring Houston homicide detective Roland March,  I know I’ve found a series detective I want to keep following through further adventures. March is often an irritating and unsympathetic hero, but his determination to get at the truth, even when it may cost him his career, keeps me reading. And even when the case is solved, March’s personal struggles continue. There is no guarantee that Roland March, the character, will have a happy ending. And that’s OK.

This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducingPattern of WoundsBethany House (July 1, 2011)byJ. Mark BertrandABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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 relocated with his wife Laurie to the plains of 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.

ABOUT THE BOOK

It’s Christmas in Houston, and homicide detective Roland March is on the hunt for a killer. A young woman’s brutal stabbing in an affluent neighborhood bears all the hallmarks of a serial murder. The only problem is that March sent the murderer to prison ten years ago. Is it a copycat — or did March convict the wrong man?

Alienated from his colleagues and with a growing rift in his marriage, March receives messages from the killer. The bodies pile up, the pressure builds, and the violence reaches too close to home. Up against an unfathomable evil, March struggles against the clock to understand the hidden message in the pattern of wounds.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Pattern of Wounds, go HERE.

Why are some albums so hard to find?

Michael Omartian was (and still is, I think) a prodigiously talented musician and producer. He’s performed on and produced albums of all kinds, from Christopher Cross to 2nd Chapter of Acts, from jazz to rock. And one of his solo albums is considered one of the greatest albums to come out of the early days of contemporary Christian music. I’m talking about White Horse, one of my favorite albums of all time. And it’s not available. Well, not unless you count the guy selling a double CD of White Horse & Adam Again for $75 on eBay. That’s just out of my music budget. It’s not on iTunes or emusic.com, either.

Why — when you can find every kind of one-hit wonder from the 70s on iTunes, and every obscure indie musician on emusic — why can’t you find this truly phenomenal, ground-breaking recording on these or any other digital music stores? For that matter, the CD seems to be out of print, too.

The album was originally released by ABC/Decca 1974 and reissued by Myrhh. I’m not sure either one of those labels is actually in business anymore. It’s one of those albums that got a lot of critical praise but was a bit ahead of its time. But it truly was amazing — musically complex, lyrically strong, wonderful musicianship. I think one of my favorite tracks on the album was called “Take Me Down,” about baptism, but it was all good.

I just think that even with all the dreck out there, surely it would be worthwhile to reissue a classic Christian rock album.

Back on Murder : Response

Yesterday I posted the basic info about Back on Murder for the CFBA tour, but I wanted to write a little more about the book. I finished it a couple of weeks ago and found it to be one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a long time. It’s not perfect, but Mark Bertrand has done a wonderful job of creating a rich, complex character in a fully realized setting. Roland March is a mess, which I know bothers some people, but I like him. (I’ve enjoyed Michael Connelly’s books featuring Harry Bosch, a complex mess himself.) March is his own worst enemy at times, and a little irritating, but he has a dogged determination to solve the web of crime he’s confronted with and I like that about him.

That dogged determination doesn’t apply just to crime solving — early in the book I wondered if March’s marriage could possibly survive, but he sticks with it. Mark captured the ways a couple can wound each other so well, but he also captured the underlying love and commitment to see each other through the bad times. It’s one of the best depictions of a fragile marriage I’ve read. Relationships matter to me and I enjoy reading books where relationships matter, so I appreciate that the relationships in Back on Murder are an important part of the story.

Another strong point is the depiction of Christians. Roland March is not a Christian, and in fact finds much evangelical culture to be confusing. He’s not sure how to deal with the Christians he’s working with, and yet he responds to their kindness and integrity. They’re not all perfect, which is also refreshing. There are no conversion scenes but there is hope.

One aspect of the book that worked less well for me, at least part of the time, was the first-person present tense. I’m fine with first person but sometimes I found all the present tense a little jarring. Still, I was forced to see things through Roland March’s eyes, as he saw them, and that was an interesting experience. I’m not sure I could pull it off, but Mark kept the voice consistent throughout. I also thought the story felt a little rushed at the end, though sometimes events all come together at once.

I appreciated what seemed to be a realistic picture of police life and I appreciated that, though the crimes were solved, it was bittersweet. Some crimes just almost never have a happy resolution and that plays out realistically in the book.

I can heartily recommend Back on Murder and I’m really looking forward to the next installment in the Roland March series next summer, The Pattern of Wounds.

CFBA Tour: Back on Murder, by J. Mark Bertrand

I’ll be posting my take on Back on Murder tomorrow, but for now, here’s the basic info. (Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers.)

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Back On Murder Bethany House (July 1, 2010)

by J. Mark Betrand
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

J. Mark Bertrand has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. After one hurricane too many, he left Houston and relocated with his wife Laurie to the plains of South Dakota.

Mark has been arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, was the foreman of a hung jury in Houston, and after relocating served on the jury that acquitted Vinnie Jones of assault. In 1972, he won an honorable mention in a child modeling contest, but pursued writing instead. Besides his personal website, visit his Crime Genre website at http://www.crimegenre.com/.

The next book in this series, Pattern Of Wounds will come out in the summer of 2011.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Det. Roland March is a homicide cop on his way out.

A missing girl. A corrupt investigation. They thought they could get away with it, but they forgot one thing:

Roland March is BACK ON MURDER…

Houston homicide detective Roland March was once one of the best. Now he’s disillusioned, cynical, and on his way out. His superiors farm him out on a variety of punishment details. But when he’s the only one at a crime scene to find evidence of a missing female victim, he’s given one last chance to prove himself. Before he can crack the case, he’s transferred to a new one that has grabbed the spotlight–the disappearance of a famous Houston evangelist’s teen daughter.

All he has to do? Find the missing teenage daughter of a Houston evangelist that every cop in town is already looking for. But March has an inside track, a multiple murder nobody else thinks is connected. With the help of a youth pastor with a guilty conscience who navigates the world of church and faith, March is determined to find the missing girls while proving he’s still one of Houston’s best detectives.

Battling a new partner, an old nemesis, and the demons of his past, getting to the truth could cost March everything. Even his life.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Back On Murder, go HERE.

CFBA: Beguiled

(I’ll give my take on the book in a day or two. In the meantime, here’s the basic information. I will say, even if you’re not usually a romance reader, you may enjoy this romantic suspense. I am. Also, per FTC rules, I received a free review copy of this book from Bethany House.)

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Beguiled
(Bethany House February 1, 2010)
Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Deeanne Gist, the bestselling author of A Bride Most Begrudging and The Measure of a Lady, has a background in education and journalism. Her credits include People magazine, Parents, and Parenting. With a line of parenting products called “I Did It!® Productions” and a degree from Texas A&M, she continues her writing and speaking. She and her family live in Houston, Texas.
J. Mark Bertrand has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. After one hurricane too many, he left Houston and relocated with his wife Laurie to the plains of South Dakota.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the shadows of Charleston, someone is watching her… Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston’s wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her.

Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything. As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?

If you’d like to read the first chapter of Beguiled, go HERE

Come and visit with those posting for this tour!

Abi at lighter side
Amy at My Life
Andie at Radiant Light
April at Projecting A
Barbara at Victoria Hill Farm
Becky at Joyful Mother
Betsy Ann at Betsy Ann “Writer at Large!”
Bonnie at Bonnie Writes
Brandilyn at Forensics and Faith
Brittanie at A Book Lover
Cara at the law, books, and life
Carla at Carla’s Writing Café
Carol at Blogging With Carol
Carrie at The Random Thoughts Of Carrie
CeeCee at Book Splurge
Cheryl at Writing Remnants
Christa at Fairfield Corner Academy
Christy at Christy’s Book Blog
Christy at Southern Sassy Things
Dave at The Plot Thickens
Dave at Novel Spotlight
Deanna at Deannna’s Corner
Deborah at books, movies and chinese food
Deborah at Comfort Joy Designs
Debra at Soul Reflections
Deena at A Peek At My Bookshelf
Delia at Gatorskunkz And Mudcats
Edyth at Great Reads by Jasmine
Elizabeth at Count it All Joy
Ernie at Writing: My Adventures In Words
Georgiana at Georgiana D
Gretchen at Back Cover Reviews
Heidi at Reviews By Heidi
Jane at Winning Readings
Janis at The Nearsighted Bookworm
Janna at Cornhusker Academy
Jason at Spoiled For The Ordinary
Jendi at Jendi’s Journal
Jennifer at So Many Books…So Little Time
Jill at Artistic Blogger
Kara at Ramblings-n-Writings
Kate at A Simple Walk
Katie at Christian Novels
Kelly at A Disciple’s Steps
Kelly at Scrambled Dregs
Kim at Window To My World
Kristi at Stamped With Grace
Leah at Ponderings From My Heart
Linda at Mocha With Linda
Linda at Musings From The Windowsill
Linda at Reading For His Glory
Lori at Noggin Bits
Lynn at Ladybug Chronicles
Margaret at Creative Madness
Marjorie at The Writer’s Tool
Mark at Thoughts Of A Sojourner
Melissa at Real Heart Prints
Michelle at Just A Minute
Michelle at Edgy Inspirational Author
Michelle at Raising Little Women
Nicole at Into The Fire
Nora at Finding Hope Through Christian Fiction
Pam at Pam’s Private Reflections
Pam at Daysong Reflections
Rebecca at A Christian Worldview of Fiction
Ruth at Booktalk & more…
Ryan at loves to read
Sabrina at Hijinks From The Heartland
Sally at Welcome To Sally Bradley.com
Sean at Bookmark Cafe
Sheila at Book Journey
Stacy at Vader’s Mom
Susan at New Every Morning
Takiela at Beauty 4 Ashes
Tara at Tara’s View On Books
Tracy at Pix-N-Pens