AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I hate my internet connection. After posting my review (or trying to) it was all lost. So lacking its former glory, here we go...again...
I've got to be honest here. I picked up three of Hines' novels during my last browse through the library and didn't know he was a Christian fiction novelist. If I had know that, I probably wouldn't have read this. Don't get me wrong, I AM a Christian, but not the kind who normally enjoys reading Christian fiction. This is because I find most of it somewhat judgmental, heavy-handed, and most of the characters are being punished by God for living less than perfect (otherwise referred to as HUMAN) lives. And they are usually just plain not very well written.
That being said, I was pleasantly surprised with this book. It was much darker than I expected it to be. I started it with a little bit of dread, after coming off of some really great reads and after getting a little ways in, I really didn't want to put it down. I found the characters to be pretty well-developed, and I liked that Jude was kind of an atypical protagonist, being deceitful to the mother of his child and not living up to potential, yadda yadda. That is trademark though for a non-traditional (i.e. fire and brimstone) type of Christian novel. I particularly liked that Hines was able to write Jude's abnormal and amazing spiritual experiences while maintaining a real believability with everything else going on. The book reminded me a lot of M. Night Shyamalan's SIGNS, sharing themes of faith and the loss of faith, our purpose on this Earth, and the interconnected of people and their actions. The way that Kristina developed in the story probably is the best example of the way Hines ties everything together in a cool and faithful way.
I was also impressed that, in Hines' debut mystery novel, he was able to keep me in suspense and led me to blindly follow along until the end without guessing that Odum was the child killer. I really bought that it was Frank and followed like the lamb that I am. :) I also loved that Rachel's best friend's name was Nicole...:)Haha.
I will definitely read the other two Hines books I picked up and feel that he was able to inject his Christian beliefs in a smart, well-explained and rational way. I can recommend this book to my non-Christian friends, without feeling like its casting me in an overzealous and hard to believe type of light. Thank you, Mr. Hines and well done.