Swope's Ridge, by Ace Collins, is second in the Lije Evan Mysteries series, following closely on the end of Farraday Road. It opens, rather like many TV series, with a "Previously in the Lije Evans Mysteries Series" page which sets a scene for what must surely have been a cliff-hanger ending in book one (though, not having read it, I'm uncertain whether the fateful shot rang out before or after the last page was turned). I felt slightly uncomfortable starting to read in the middle of a story, though the first scene, where an Arab American is arrested as a terrorist, certainly grabbed my attention, turning it well away from any thoughts of what I might have missed.
Chapter ten brings the reader back to the fate of the erstwhile terrorist, now in jail awaiting execution, and at this point in the book I found myself hooked. While I, and the characters, would have liked to believe in Omar's innocence, the evidence certainly seemed compelling. But leads are followed and the reader becomes suspicious of the truth just as Lije and his colleagues make their guesses. The racial profiling and easily excited fears of post 9-11 are well-depicted, with citizens and newspapers rallying against the lawyer who might dare "defend" a convicted terrorist. Characters from as far apart as Britain, Germany, Mexico and the Middle East bring their own thoughts to bear, and the story ends in a race against time to save far more lives than one.
There's a thread of faith in this book that's nicely done, and very wisely not overdone. The reader is invited to question the characters' beliefs and motivations, but the author never threatens to preach. I found the story surprisingly satisfying, and despite my initial misgivings will hope to read Farraday Road as well some day. Lije Evans and friends are an interesting and enterprising group to read about.
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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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September 12, 2001. Four members of the Klasser family are found dead outside Dallas, Texas. In the wake of 9/11, the Klassers' neighbor, Omar Jones---an American citizen of Arab descent---is convicted of their murder. A month before Jones' execution, attorney Lije Evans searches for evidence that will prove the man innocent. But Evans' quest goes deeper than solving one crime. He is determined to find the secret behind the dark history of sleepy Swope's Ridge---and how it ties into his wife's murder. Interlocking mysteries lead Evans and his team to the battlegrounds of former Nazi Germany, the dirt roads of Kansas, and a rusty cargo ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, they discover a secret that offers the promise of great power---and the greatest temptation they've ever faced. In the second book of the Lije Evans Mysteries series, bestselling author Ace Collins immerses readers in an intricate and deadly international plot. Racism, betrayal, and death-defying escapes compound an adventure that knows no bounds in this harrowing novel for suspense lovers everywhere.