Justice Delivered (Memphis Cold Case #4)

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.

Title:

Justice Delivered (Memphis Cold Case #4)

Author:

Patricia Bradley

Publisher:

Revell

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/revell

Publication Date:

April 2019

Format:

Paperback

Length:

384 pages

OVERVIEW

Sixteen years ago, Heather Morgan met a man who said he was a modeling agent. It took her eight years to escape the human trafficking ring he was really working for. Now, her name is Carly Smith and while she’s doing better, she has no plans of going back to her hometown or looking for the people who trafficked her. Not until she tries to connect with her late sister’s brother and his daughter, and the daughter gets kidnapped. Can Carly find her niece before she disappears for good? Even if she does, can she really put the past behind her?

Bradley builds a tight and carefully-coordinated mystery, which plays out with just enough suspense to keep readers going to the next page. Similarly, the romance angle plays out to audience expectations, culminating in exactly the way readers of the genre expect and enjoy. One could argue that given the hard subject Bradley is tackling, going along conventional genre lines creates a moral problem (see the discussion below about Christian Impact for more on this). However, that problem partly comes down to what one thinks a story for adults with Christian themes is supposed to do. Should a Christian-themed novel for grown-ups, who already know all the basic facts of faith, give them more easy answers in order to encourage them? Or should the novel present readers with dilemmas that push them expand their theological views, going beyond the basics? The answer will have a big impact on whether readers enjoy this kind of book.

Leaving these theological questions aside, one can’t deny that Bradley produces an entertaining novel that Christian Fiction romance/suspense fans will certainly enjoy. A thrilling ride from start to finish.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5 stars)

3 stars

Suggested Audience

Christian Fiction fans who like a mix of mystery, suspense and romance.

Christian Impact

The heroine has significant trauma, and much of the story concerns her attempts to find healing from her past so she can reconnect with people she used to know, as well as forgive those who hurt her and find love. As in many Christian Fiction novels, there’s a redemption arc that progresses pretty smoothly throughout the book – the story boils down to a few scenes talking about forgiveness and someone asking for it, than the main character gives it and the pain goes away. Bradley doesn’t harp on the effect of forgiveness as much as some other novelists do, but one of the traffickers is very willing to repent and plead for forgiveness. While this kind of quick and overt redemption arc may work in a historical romance novel, where the setting and struggles are far removed from readers’ experiences, in a contemporary setting it feels a bit artificial. This is particularly true since the novel focuses on sex trafficking, a twisted industry that affects victims and perpetrators long after the fact in various ways. In that context, villains who almost immediately ask for forgiveness comes across like an attempt to gloss over the pain with cheap grace and deny the very real pain that trafficking victims have to deal with.

A similar problem comes up with the love story. Bradley develops the romance between the heroine and a policeman along conventional romance novel lines (they feel drawn to each other, sort of fight it but not too much, and the story culminates in a marriage proposal). Given that the heroine has been betrayed in the past by policemen who sent her back to human traffickers, having her fall in love with a policeman is a hard sell. Ending the novel less like a romance novel (say, with the characters agreeing to see what happens but moving cautiously) would have been more plausible and arguably more respectful to people who’ve gone through the kind of trauma the heroine goes through. The need for a smooth healing arc by the end results in the book not paying enough attention to the pain characters feel, which given the material feels a bit flippant.

Justice Delivered (Memphis Cold Case #4)


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