Title: The Christian Detective
Author: Robert Rogers
Pages: 292 Paperback
Genre: Crime Mystery
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Pacific Book Review
Jake Carson is stuck in a rut. Once an aggressive and lucrative lawyer, the near fifty- year-old is nothing more than a drunk with temper issues. It has been three years since his life shifted drastically with Jake’s wife filing for divorce because she found out that he had been having an affair with Jen McGuire, a married woman. The even sadder part is that the woman happened to be one of his clients. Now living in a halfway house in La Jolla, a community within the city of San Diego, Jake periodically gets assignments serving papers for his old law firm. But a discussion with his previous law partner brings up old memories. Jake’s past comes to haunt him when he hears about the tragic deaths of none other than Jen and her husband Nate.
Guilt ridden from his tryst with Jen, Jake convinces his prior partner to permit his involvement in the hit-and-run McGuire case. There’s a hitch though: Jake has to prove that he’s keeping away from alcohol, or he’s off the case. After getting approval from Amy, the McGuire’s daughter and executrix of their estate, Jake begins to investigate her parents’ mysterious accident. To get his drinking under control, Jake delves into the Bible given to him by an itinerant preacher. Between taking scripture verses to heart and some help from a Catholic nun, Jake slowly gets his act together and is able to focus his efforts on the case. Just when he thinks he has narrowed the evidence down to a man who had close ties with Nate, Jake learns that he was murdered on Halloween…by none other than a … well I cannot spoil it.
Rogers’ latest mystery is a riveting combination of religion, red herrings, and unexpected romance. Rogers zeroes in on Jake, a man who seemed to have everything going for him until his alcoholic and licentious addictions catch up with him. Amid his omphaloskepsis (naval gazing), Jake encounters Brother Rasmussen who challenges him to seek the scripture. Rogers’ incorporation of Christianity sheds an unusual light on good versus evil. While this theme is prevalent in most mystery plots, conscious thought to one’s actions is not generally anticipated. In the case of Jake, he is riddled with guilt after hearing Brother Rasmussen’s fire and brimstone messages. Concurrently, Jake is a skeptic—an expected attribute from a lawyer. Instead of blindly accepting Rasmussen’s words as gospel truth, Jake not only explores the scriptures, but also puts them to the test.
Rogers generously and aptly sprinkles religion throughout his narrative as he introduces the remainder of his cast. A tight handful serves as foils while the rest get caught up in the flurry of red herrings. This broad list of possible “bad guys” is by far Rogers’ key as well as driving plot feature. Each chapter identifies a new aspect in the McGuire case, and with that a new narrative twist as yet another person is earmarked as a possible culprit in the couple’s demise. That said, Rogers definitely knows how to keep his audience engaged because they will be scratching their heads until the very end. Of course, while readers are busy trying to figure out “who did what to whom,” Rogers throws in a little romance in the mix. Needless to say, providing more information will create spoilers. The bottom line: Don’t let the book title fool you! “The Christian Detective” is full of surprises. A perfect read for all, no matter what you believe.