Christian Mystery Review: Where There’s A Will by Amy K. Rognlie

Today, I want to introduce you to a newly released mystery by Christian fiction author Amy Rognlie: Where There’s a Will (Short Creek Mysteries Book 2).

Short Creek’s flower, yarn, and book shop owner Calendula Erickson, better known as Callie, has her hands full as she tries to balance an unusual mix of ups and downs plaguing work, friends, and family.

The suspicious death of her Aunt Dot’s childhood friend, Sister Erma, and a postcard to someone who disappeared from Short Creek twenty years earlier set in motion three seemingly unrelated searches for a possible murderer, Sister Erma’s will, and a member of the missing family.

As Callie and her family and friends uncover multiple suspects for multiple crimes, the searches become more complicated—and dangerous. In the middle of it all, Callie struggles with her feelings for Todd Whitney, with the attempts to sabotage plans to build Hope House, and with the troubles faced by her friends. Callie believes in living a faith-based life. She also believes in acting on her prayers—sometimes without stopping to think or listen—putting herself in jeopardy as she follows the clues and supports those she loves.

This story is well written and full of the twists, turns, and surprises that I love in a mystery—a tangled web of lies and lives. Some readers may be put off by the Christian elements and lifestyles of the characters, but others will find the realistic portrayal of those elements welcome and even inspirational. Either way, the story is a good mystery. I look forward to reading the first book of this series. Rognlie also writes a sweet romance series (Miss Opal Stories).

I have only recently discovered Rognlie’s mysteries, and I’m glad I did. Do you have a recently discovered mystery writer whose stories you would like to share? Please do so in the comments.


Thursday’s Review—Genealogy Mystery: Dead in a Flash by Brynn Bonner

I love to read. Most writers do. I think it’s genetic, as in the blood. The next best thing to reading a good book is sharing that book with another reader, which I am about to do. I have no desire to critique books down to the bone. If I share them, I enjoyed something about them, and I think others might, too. Because I belong to somewhat different reader/writer groups, I might note something that might be objectionable to some readers but not others. I didn’t find anything I thought would be objectionable in my latest discovery. Except, of course, murder. Murder that crosses time.

In Dead in a Flash (A Family History Mystery Book 4) by Brynn Bonner, professional genealogist Sophreena McClure and Esme Sabatier, her business partner, find themselves with a busier schedule than they had anticipated. A single project for retired North Carolina Senator Stanton Sawyer has become two. Originally tasking them with tracing his family history and public service record to produce heritage scrapbooks for his upcoming eightieth birthday celebration at Mystic Lake Hotel, Stanton has now asked them to discover what they can about a family tragedy from his childhood which, even though well documented, left unanswered questions: Did baby Johnny die in a home fire or was he kidnapped? Were Stanton’s parents crazy for continuing to search for him for the rest of their lives?

The senator is concerned because of a proviso in his parents’ will that set aside a sum of money for Johnny should he ever be found. That money is soon to revert to Stanton and his sister Lenora. Sophreena and Esme are concerned that their investigation into the decades old tragedy could hurt both the senator and them, especially after an envelope from a box of family memorabilia disappears. The third project comes about when Dinah Leigh Nelson asks them to design a family tree as a wedding gift for her brother Conrad. Although a simple enough project for Sophreena and Esme, it will require time they don’t have to spare, especially after a modern-day murder occurs.

When I started my own genealogy mystery series, I thought I was one of maybe two or three other such authors. Was I ever wrong! I’ve discovered many authors of family history mysteries and enjoy reading their stories as much as I enjoy writing my own. Such was the case with Dead in a Flash by Brynn Bonner. As I followed Bonner’s characters back and forth through time, I felt right at home. Her connectivity of people and events is seamless as she leads readers through the decades, allowing them to discover and interpret the clues—and misinterpret them through the twists and turns and red herrings—along with her characters. Her southern heritage shines through in both the landscapes and the characters. I recognized people I know in some of those characters. When Aunt Yvonne says, “Those people who came before are all dead, they can’t do us any good,” I immediately thought of a personal friend who seems to believe that once our kin pass on, we’re no longer related to them!

All in all, I enjoyed Bonner’s story. It was well written and kept me turning the pages. In addition to the Family History Mystery series, Bonner (Brenda Bonner Witchger aka Brynn Bonner aka Ellen Harris) writes the Mysteries of Sparrow Island series under the penname Ellen Harris.

Have you read a book from either of Bonner’s series? If so, what did you enjoy most about her story or her writing?