Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage

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Nursing a Grudge by Chris Well

Reviewed by Karri Compton

"[Well] proves he can write varied characters, an interesting mystery plot, and include issues relevant to the elderly."

Earl Walker just wants to be left alone. All he needs are his TV shows and photo of his late wife, Barbara. After losing his job as a school bus driver when a shooting left him paralyzed, and with no family left, Earl resigns himself to a boring existence in his assisted-living apartment.

His routine gets turned upside down when college student Jenny starts visiting him, making him get out and meet other people. His first attempt at socialization involves an unexpected death—or is it murder? This is what Earl must find out. Promising himself he won't get involved, he nevertheless enlists the help of Jenny and an attractive peer named Gloria.

Well does a good job of casting suspicion on every suspect, giving minor clues (and the standard red herring or two) to push along the amateur investigation. The revelation of the culprit is a high point in the book, and though it makes sense, it wasn't expected.

This book is very tame and moves along at a leisurely pace. It seems Earl has a lot of long inner dialog, which put me off a bit. He seemed to rehash the same things over and over. Perhaps this is because of his age, or because Well wanted to make sure his readers didn't miss anything. Also, Jenny, (the token bubbly Christian in the story) seems more than a little ditzy, which disappointed me because she could have been a more likeable and believable Christ-example if her head was set more firmly on her shoulders. Regardless of her flaws, she still exerted a good influence on Earl, which shows later in the book.

I have long wanted to read a Chris Well book, but with all the great Christian fiction out there, I just haven't gotten the chance until now. Nursing a Grudge, labeled a cozy mystery, is a departure from his “regular” crime fiction, which is a bummer for me because I think I would have enjoyed his earlier works better. He nevertheless proves he can write varied characters, an interesting mystery plot, and include issues relevant to the elderly. For senior citizens who enjoy an easy, entertaining read, and something to discuss in a group setting, this would be an excellent choice.

Karri ComptonKarri Compton, wife and mother of three teens, two cats, and a beagle, devours Christian fiction whenever possible. Her favorite genre is suspense/thriller, especially Ted Dekker and Steven James novels. Since promoting biblical worldview fiction is dear to her heart, she reviews on her blog, Fiction Fanatics Only! and is a staff reviewer for such sites as The Christian Suspense Zone and Fiction Addict. Her stab at writing a novel confirmed what a tough job it is, and so the work is shelved for now, allowing the pros to do what they do best. When she isn't reading and reviewing, Karri stays busy at church and performing in various community theater companies.