Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sally Wright's Mysteries

About 10 years ago, I was wandering the shelves in a local Christian bookstore. I was looking in the fiction section, and almost by habit I went to the end of the alphabet first (likely a feeble attempt to counter the curse of alphabetical order; a lifetime of standing at the end of the line or sitting in the back of the classroom can do weird things to you).

There, in the bottom shelf of the last row, I saw a book called Publish and Perish by Sally Wright. It was a mystery, with a historian named Ben Reese for a detective, set at an Ohio college. It was published by Ballantine, a mainstream publishing house, and nothing about it suggested a reason for it being found in a Christian bookstore. I read the first page or two, was impressed with the writing, and bought it. What I found remarkable about it was that it reflected a Christian faith without hitting the reader over the head with it.

It was also a great story.

The bookstore later closed, I went through a major career change and lost track of Sally Wright. That is, until I wandered into Big Sleep Books in St. Louis' Central West End about three weeks ago. It's a bookshop devoted exclusively to mysteries and suspense. My wife and I wandered around, I gravitated to the end of the alphabet (seriously, this is like Pavlov's dog) and I found Sally Wright again. I picked up Pride and Predator and Pursuit and Persuasion, and learned there were at least two more in the Ben Reese series. I'm well into Pride and Predator now, and it's delightful -- well written, well plotted and containing a subtle theme of faith throughout.

I also bought Carlos Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind and Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Painter of Battles. I wanted to reread the Zafon book before tackling his latest work translated into English, The Angel's Game, and I'm a huge fan of Perez-Reverte. But those are stories for another day.

It's a great pleasure to rediscover Sally Wright.

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