Friday, May 7, 2010

‘The Right Call’ by Kathy Herman – Book Review

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The latest book on my reading list is ‘The Right Call’ by Kathy Herman, third and final novel in the Sophie Trace Trilogy.  I had the pleasure of reading Book Two, ‘The Last Word’ earlier in the year (you can read my review here).  I have not read ‘The Real Enemy,’ Book One as yet, but may do so when time allows.  I really grew to love the characters in this trilogy!

Here is Kathy Herman’s biography:

Best-selling suspense novelist Kathy Herman has written sixteen novels since retiring from her family’s Christian bookstore business.  Kathy and her husband, Paul, have three grown children and five grandchildren and live in Tyler, Texas.

Here is the video trailer for this wonderfully written book:

To recap - the Sophie Trace Trilogy follows the Jessup family of Sophie Trace, Tennessee.  Sophie Trace, which is a fictional town, is set in the Great Smoky Mountains in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge vicinity, on the North Carolina border.  The mother, Brill Jessup, is the chief of the Sophie Trace Police Department.  She previously served eighteen stellar years on the Memphis Police Department as a detective.  She has been married for twenty plus years to Kurt, who is the owner of a chain of five quick copy stores called SpeedWay.  They have three children – Ryan, a recent summa cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville (who does not appear in this installment; he is traveling to Costa Rica after graduation and prior to beginning law school), Vanessa, a junior at an on-line university while living at home with her toddler, Carter, and Emily, the baby of the family at age eleven.

As noted, in ‘The Last Word,’ Vanessa returned home for the summer after her sophomore year seven months pregnant – without advising her parents in advance.   Despite the prodding of the father of the baby to abort, she gave birth to the baby, and Carter is the joy of the Jessup family.  Everyone is chipping in help her raise the baby, including his Auntie Em – proud Aunt Emily.  It is the beginning of another summer, and Vanessa’s sweetheart, Ethan Langley, has returned home for the summer after his junior year at as a psychology major.   

In ‘The Right Call,’ (based on 2 Peter 2:196: “For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him”), the main focus is on Ethan.  There are several exciting and suspenseful moments.  As soon as Ethan returns back to Sophie Trace, there are four murders which, at first glance, would appear to be random and unrelated.  One of the victims is someone who was very close to Ethan; unfortunately, the summer he had been looking forward to with great expectation in terms of spending time with Vanessa and Carter, began on a very sad note.     

As usual, Kathy weaves the Gospel throughout the novel.  All of the major characters are Christians, and they don’t hesitate to share their faith with those who may not know the Lord.  They know that they want to share what they have with others, and they are grateful for what the Lord has done for them.  Here is Ethan thinking about his true identity in Christ as he finds himself in a dangerous predicament:

Why should a King’s kid cower in fear when he has been granted the power of his Father’s authority?  Didn’t he have angels protecting him?  Wasn’t every step he would ever take be recoded before he was born?  Didn’t his heavenly Father have a purpose for his life?  Was he going to let those pathetic pawns of darkness bully him into silence?... If right was right, it was right all the time – not just when it was convenient. (p. 317)

In ‘A Note from the Author,’ Mrs. Herman shares with us how we all can live by the power of the Holy Spirit:

As long as we’re confined to these mortal bodies, the Enemy will fight to control us – body, mind, and spirit.  And though many of us will never experience the devastating effects of drugs, alcohol, sex, or gambling addiction, how often do we fall victim to the more acceptable vices, such as overeating, overspending, overworking, overindulging?  Denial tends to be the first form of defense, and we ignore the problem until it gets a foothold.  Then, rather than letting God’s Holy Spirit have the reins, we struggle to tame it in our own strength and realize we can’t – that we’ve become slaves rather than masters, overdoers rather than overcomers…. Those of us who are called by His name do not have to be enslaved by the flesh but can live by the Spirit.  It takes faith, discipline, and a burning desire to let go and let God.  As odd as it seems, it’s only by letting Him take control that we’re set free – and able to fins true joy and peace.  (pp. 393-394)

In addition to writing a suspenseful and God-honoring novel, Kathy has written a Discussion Guide in the back of the book, with insightful and probing questions.  I would highly recommend this book to a book club for study.

As stated, this is the third and final novel in the Sophie Trace Trilogy.  Each book in the Trilogy stands on its own; Kathy provides enough background information in each book that the previous books do not necessarily need to be read, and they don’t have to be read in order.  I appreciate that aspect of the series!  I highly recommend reading all of them, though – they are that good!  I can now say that I am a Kathy Herman fan without question!

Fortunately (I did not want to leave this family!), the next series in Ms. Herman’s repertoire will be the 'Secrets of Roux River Bayou,' set in the bayou country of Louisiana.  The new series will follow the Langley family down to their state of origin.  Kathy’s playing my tune!  In addition to loving the Great Smoky Mountain region of the country, I love reading about Cajun country down in Louisiana!  The first book in this latest trilogy cannot be released soon enough for me! 

You can order this book here.

This book was published by David C. Cook and provided to me by the B & B Media Group for review purposes.

Just wondering - how do you allow the Holy Spirit to help you with your daily life - and your biggest struggles?  Please share as much as you feel comfortable sharing.  I have found that the Lord redeems our past by allowing us to share what we have learned with people who are struggling with the same issues.

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