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Culture Notable Books

Notable Books

Notable books

Four noteworthy novels reviewed by Susan Olasky

A night watchman at a Florida condominium complex used to be a homicide detective until a still-unknown assailant shot him and killed his female partner. Plagued by guilt over her death and pain from the shooting, the cop medicates himself with Jim Beam and bitterness. Then a young woman worried about her brother shows up at his work. They find the brother, a pastor, and an exotic dancer dead in an apparent murder-suicide. The sister isn't convinced and persuades the ex-cop to investigate. Mynheir is a cop who writes knowledgeably about the seamy world in which the story takes place and shows how God is working in that world.

Saints in Limbo

Velma True is an old country woman whose best days seem behind her since her husband Joe died. She's become peculiar, unable even to leave her house unless she's clinging to one of the threads from her front porch to the mailbox and garden. A stranger appears on her birthday and gives her a rock. It has both the power to conjure up vivid memories and to bring forth evil "scouts" that feed on fear, doubt, and regret. The stranger and the rock orchestrate events in such a way that Velma and her family are forever changed. This lyrical Southern gothic tale raises questions about how the past continues to send ripples into the present.

Sometimes a Light Surprises

Ever since his wife was murdered 21 years earlier, Ben Buckley has lived behind emotional walls, estranged from his now-grown children. His days are filled with routines and trivial pursuits. His decision to hire a young Christian woman to work at his business ushers in many subtle changes over the next year. Turner's evocative novel portrays an emotionally dead man slowly coming back to life. It deals with themes of hope, guilt, and family restoration. Its slow pace suits the theme: "But for now there was hope abroad. Not of his own doing, none of it. It had come quietly, like a small candle moving toward him in the dark."

Words Unspoken

A 19-year-old girl believes she's to blame for her mother's death in a car crash; a mom grieves the accidental drowning of her 3-year-old son; a broker strives to assure his family's security; a suburban housewife maintains a façade as her marriage crumbles; an older couple run a driving school for reluctant drivers; a young immigrant plots to achieve success in order to take care of his family; and a novelist goes to great lengths to hide her identity. After a slow start, this novel skillfully weaves together these many threads and shows a greater hand at work even in the midst of moral failing and tragedy.


In Unfashionable (Multnomah, 2009), Tullian Tchividjian, senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, argues winsomely and persuasively that Christians can make "a difference in the world by being different," as the subtitle states. How do we become "God's current agents of renewal"? We put aside our desires to be cool or hip and learn how to live counter-culturally, becoming an "alternative society." Our difference starts, he says, with "the story of a simple Jew who made a difference because he was different." The book is a wise exploration of how we, as followers of Christ, are to be "in the world yet distinct from it, to live against the world for the world." Tchividjian challenges from Scripture some current church practices and suggests from Ephesians "six defining marks that ought to identify the community of God." As we develop those traits, we will become "a counterculture for the common good."