Christ's Glory, Not Mine

by science fiction author Andrea J. Graham

CFBA: And if I Die

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This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing AND IF I DIE (Faithwords August 2007) by John Aubrey Anderson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


John grew up in Mississippi cotton country. After graduating from Mississippi State, he received an Air Force commission and has recently retired after flying twenty-eight years for a major airline. He lives in Texas with his wife, Nan.

AND IF I DIE is the third book in the Black and White Chronicles. The first was Abiding Darkness (August, 2006), the second was Wedgewood Grey (February, 2007).

ABOUT THE BOOK:

It’s 1968. Missy Parker has been married to Dr. Patrick Patterson for nine years; they live in Denton, Texas where Pat is chairman of the philosophy department at North Texas State University.

Mose Washington, a black man Missy refers to as her almost-daddy, is hiding behind a new name—Mose Mann. Mose and the young black man who poses as his grandson have spent eight years successfully evading the FBI, a murderous congresswoman, and creatures from the demonic realm. They now live in Pilot Hill, Texas—fifteen miles from Pat and Missy. Mose is committing the autumn of his life to the pursuit of the knowledge of God and the protection of his “grandson”. His “grandson” is interested in honing his skills as a bull rider.

Close friends see portents of danger and converge on Pilot Hill to warn the two black men that yet another confrontation with malevolent beings may be looming.

My Review:

Anderson held my interest, but overall, this third installment didn’t live up to the expectations the previous two books set (though, that would be hard to do). His storytelling style remained fairly consistent, but the head hopping and scenes written from animals’ perspectives bothered me even more than before; especially when the author called time out to sit down and explain the rodeo.

The plot seemed all over the place to me, with what my memory recalls as nearly 1/4 of the book taken up by backstory upon backstory, and another 1/4 dedicated to subplots to nowhere, introducing new characters that don’t add much besides additional pages, and (warning: spoiler) converting a Jewish friend of Bill Mann’s, presumably to assuage the author’s conscience when he kills him off.

He does better than most third books on one issue–a reader can pick this one up first and not miss a thing. Because he summarized nearly the entire plot of the previous two books, to the point this fan felt a tad insulted even knowing why he was doing it.

Now, Anderson does a great job of building sympathy for his characters, human and non-human alike. But the plot issues cause this to backfire somewhat, although he does illicit the desired mourning when he kills his targets.

Theologically, I had one bone: a college I’d gotten the impression as a Christian school hiring an atheist/agnostic (the character can’t make up his mind which he is) as a philosophy instructor. The synopsis calls it a state school, but Pat is a Christian and in charge of hiring for the philosophy department and should have been more discerning in his selection process. It doesn’t matter how “brilliant” this guy might have been, philosophy class is a world view’s class, and most prof’s, intentionally or not, promote their own. Can two walk together unless they are agreed? Some would see “diversity” in having philosophy instructors teaching from different worldviews. I see chaos.

In addition, this fell in the category of unresolved subplots and new characters that contribute little or nothing to the actual story.

I hate to sound so negative. Anderson has proved himself in the past to be a good writer, and his prose itself is fairly solid. His general skill still showed here by the fact I still found it an enjoyable read despite my disappointment. Of course, my copy is a pre-release copy. Hopefully he’s gotten another edit in before the final edition.