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CR3 #73: The Crossing by Serita Ann Jakes

(I received this book from WaterBrook Press free through Goodreads.com. I appreciate their generosity, but my opinions cannot be swayed.)

When first reading the description of The Crossing, it sounded intriguing. Years ago, at a railroad crossing, a gun-wielding man got on a bus coming back from a high school football game. He shot one of the players in the arm and killed the young cheerleading coach. Many years later, the assistant DA husband of one of the girls who was on the bus, along with the football player--who has now become a police officer--reopen the case to try to get to the bottom of things. The premise sounded good...what I didn't notice was the last bit of the description: "As the Campbells and Casio teeter on the bring of losing everything, will they be able to discover that what begins at the crossing ends at the cross?"

Yes, I had somehow gotten myself involved with contemporary Christian literature by mistake. "Well," I figured, "too late to do anything about this now. Might as well read the book. The premise is still fairly interesting." As it turns out, this was not a bad book at all. It was just not a good book for me.

The characters are all right, though it's a little tough when the introduction to one of the protagonists (Casio, the former-football-player-turned-cop) begins with him raping and beating the crap out of his girlfriend. Apparently, his experiences back on the bus have led to a life of untamed rage (though I found myself wondering if perhaps some of his rage was due to having been named after a cheap brand of plastic keyboard). Claudia, the other main character, is also a wreck--the teacher killed had been her best friend, and she knows some secrets about the possible motive. Her husband Vic, the assistant DA, opens the case to try and bring Claudia peace, but finds that his help is just making everything worse. Luckily, he is understanding of her issues, because he is almost too perfect to be true. Narration is also provided by BJ, the teacher who died. The shifting perspectives actually work pretty well, and provide a variety of ways to look at the story.

The story itself is all right, though there are many diversions from the heart of the mystery, instead focusing on Claudia's relationships with Vic and God, and also on Casio's relationship with his girlfriend Hannah. I often found myself bored with Claudia and her philosophical and theological tangents. The author tried to bring in some other issues, including her relationship with her pastor father and critical mother, but I found those mostly distracting. Another problem was that the stakes for the characters never got very high. The plot plodded along as Vic and Casio investigate the old case, but really no one is ever in danger, and aside from possible closure, there is no real drive to solve this murder. The only real shock in the whole novel doesn't even have anything to do with the murder. Personally, I didn't find "Will Claudia be able to reconnect with her husband AND God?" to be a particularly pressing motivation to keep reading.

As I said, I am sure there are people who would enjoy this book. It is well-written, and the characters were for the most part reasonably realistic and interesting. However, my lack of interest in the Christian aspect of the story served as a major turn off for me.

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