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MAPLETON MURDERS by Sarah Jean Stewart

MAPLETON MURDERS

By Sarah Jean Stewart

Pub Date: June 18th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1477429365
Publisher: CreateSpace

Stewart’s novel is a classic murder mystery with a Christian bent set in an upstate New York town that is no stranger to corruption.

Heroine Kate Feeney finds herself at the center of that corruption when she stands up to the school board to protest a proposed sex education program and gets thrown in jail. It’s only the beginning of Kate’s adventures. After the president of the school board is murdered, Kate begins working with police Detective Mike Roberts, formerly of the NYPD, to track down the killer. Suspects include a wealthy sheik from the fictional country of South Arabyia, police officers who have a blackmailing operation and a local family of moonshiners. Before she can do much, though, Kate is unfairly arrested again, this time after an altercation at an abortion clinic protest. While being transported in the back of a police cruiser after her arraignment, Kate manages to avoid being raped by a corrupt cop. She flees to the woods when she hears shots fired, only to come out and find the cop dead. Although she saw nothing, she heard the killer’s voice, and this makes her a target for the unknown murderer who tries more than once to bring down the gutsy woman. A number of twists and turns produce an action-packed story, and thanks to the relationship between Kate and Mike, there’s a hint of romance. Though Kate and Mike are baffled, regular mystery readers will likely deduce the killer’s ID thanks to a few subtle hints. The story is marred by clunky dialogue that is asked to carry too much of the back story, such as this comment made by Mike: “Because my mother’s suicide was caused by mental instability, your childhood abuse makes me afraid you might become mentally unstable. I’m worried that your risk-taking is a suicidal impulse.” Nonbelievers may wonder if Kate’s prayers are falling on deaf ears when they see she must fight off a rapist, gets kidnapped by a sheik and both her aunt and her dog get shot, but Christians will likely admire her steadfast faith.

A clean, readable Christian mystery with an unsurprising outcome.