DIVIDED LOYALTIES

L. K. Malone, Author
L. K. Malone, Author . Kregel $9.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8254-2796-1
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First-time novelist Malone stirs up an ambitious brew of politics, romance, religion and betrayal in this evangelical Christian thriller set against the backdrop of Italy and the Middle East. The story gets off to a quick start when terrorists attempt to kidnap navy admiral Hardy's only child, the alluring teenage Giselle, and 1st Lt. Raz Chayil heroically comes to the rescue. We fast-forward eight years to find Raz and Giselle falling into love and matrimony. Raz has sold out to the opposition party long ago, however, and his marriage to Giselle is a political maneuver complicated by his love for her. When Giselle discovers her husband's duplicity, she flees—straight into the arms of more intrigue and terrorism. One of the book's strengths is the web of mystery the author builds around his characters; it's also a weakness, as the sudden revelations can be confusing. To his credit, Malone works hard at balancing his critical observations about Islam, Judaism and Catholicism with positive characters from each faith. Evangelical readers will be satisfied when the Jewish Raz and the Catholic Giselle each find their religious traditions lacking and undergo conversions. An instructional tone about faith or culture occasionally brings the story to a stop, but Malone tosses in just enough surprises to encourage the reader to turn the next page. There's promise in this first effort, and readers who like a military edge to their evangelical thrillers should be intrigued. (July)

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