One man’s business trip to a foreign country changes his life irrevocably in O’Quin’s debut inspirational suspense novel.
Stephen Cranton is in a funk. Although his job for International Courier Services takes him to exotic locations such as Java, Indonesia, he can’t shake the feeling that the spark is gone with his wife, Leah, and he can’t seem to truly connect with their two children, Randall and Tristan. When Stephen spots a copy of a self-help book called Fear Not and Live Hot! he hopes it will inspire him to make big changes in his life. One of the book’s first instructions is to “Do something spontaneous.” So when Stephen spots a limo driver holding a sign for another man upon landing in Indonesia, he throws caution to the wind and impersonates the car’s intended passenger, Carlton Easley. Unfortunately for Stephen, however, Carlton is the target of an abduction plot—a plot that is swiftly executed, and Stephen is taken by a group of three Indonesians to the other side of the island. With the help of one of his abductors, Stephen escapes and meets up with soon-to-be-retired Bible teacher Om Donri. The two become captives once again to one of the abductors, and during their lengthy ordeal, they discuss spirituality and faith. Stephen must decide whether to live in fear and hiding as he always has or learn to view his life in a new way. The book points out that O’Quin “served as missionary in Indonesia for nearly 14 years,” and his knowledge of the landscape, culture, and climate shine through here, creating a vibrant sense of place. Some readers, however, may be disappointed that he does not give equal attention to Indonesian cuisine. The characters, especially poor Stephen, seem to spend an inordinate amount of time waiting: exhaustively long plane rides, immobile traffic jams, prison rooms, even a cave. While this certainly provides Stephen the time to reflect on his life, many readers won’t exactly relish having to wait along with him.
An atmospheric debut, but the leisurely plot hinders the thrills.