THE EMPTY COFFIN: A Sam and Vera Sloan Mystery

Robert Wise, Author . Thomas Nelson $12.99 (312p) ISBN 978-0-7852-6687-7

In his 25th book, Wise, an Episcopal bishop, begins a new detective series which, alas, is off to an inauspicious start. The plot augurs well. There's been a murder in Colorado Springs, Colo., but the body is missing. This doesn't faze Det. Sam Sloan, who has built his reputation on his infallibility. But he's under other pressures. His long hours spent solving crimes are threatening his marriage, and his Christian faith isn't going over well at work. When Sam's wife, Vera, jumps into the action to help find the corpse, things begin to cook—or they should. Unfortunately, fans of Wise's most recent book, Be Not Afraid, will be surprised by the poor writing and editing that hamper the reader on every page. Descriptions are confusing and overdone, characters share the same names and clichés abound. One of the worst moments is when Sam comforts the brother of the murdered teen, saying, "Jesus Christ died on a tree, and we know Allan died at the foot of one." Loyal readers will wade through strange non sequiturs and overly padded text only to reach an anticlimactic ending. There is a promising future for mysteries with a faith perspective, but to capitalize on that, Wise and his publisher must invest in making the next book a tighter, more engaging read. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
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