Eighth grade was the first year we had science lab. Not being particularly inclined toward the sciences (do not even get me started on College Chemistry), I only remember two things.

One, our teacher had pigs – in a jar. And two, I was paired up with Trevor. And I did not like Trevor. I don’t remember where those feelings came from, but I remember feeling them. Strongly.

However, while I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what pickled pigs have to do with, well, anything, I can tell you what I learned from Trevor.

One day in science lab, I noticed that Trevor had a book. That still strikes me as odd, but whatever. I thought it looked interesting, and he said it was. Then he actually loaned it to me. From the moment I opened up Sue Grafton’s H is for Homicide, I was hooked.

I’d always been an avid reader and a huge fan of series, but until then I’d stuck with young adult books. Important fiction like those epic novels written by R.L. Stine. But after reading the gritty, complicated mystery by Grafton, those simplistic books didn’t do it for me anymore.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could end this random story by telling you that Trevor and I became the best of friends after that? Well, we didn’t. But I don’t remember carrying my torch of hatred onto high school, so maybe sharing that book did bridge somehow bridge a gap. Whatever that gap was in the first place.

Today I still love reading mysteries. My favorites are political thrillers, although I eat up the cop/detective stories, like James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series (yes, another series).

But sometimes the gore and worldliness gets to me. Jonathan Kellerman used to be one of my favorite authors, harking back to my days as a psychology major. But in the past few years, I haven’t been able to enjoy – or in the case of his last book, finish – his books because the situations and people he describes are just too awful.

That’s where good Christian mysteries come in. However, that phrase, “good Christian mysteries,” is more often an oxymoron than not. Which is why I was so excited to discover Diann Mills’ Call of Duty series.

[Yes, another series. I also buy multiples in different colors when I find a pair of shoes or pants I like.]

This series, like the O’Malley books from Dee Henderson – which I LOVED, features characters with real flaws and real problems. The dialogue is authentic, the mysteries can’t be solved in the fourth chapter, and the Christian part of the book doesn’t hit you over the head with preachiness. In short, Mills writes good Christian mysteries.

Here’s the summary for Sworn to Protect (Call of Duty Series, Book 2):

Border Patrol Agent Danika Morales has sworn to protect the southern borders of our nation, but that oath has cost her. Two years ago, her husband, Toby, was killed trying to help the very immigrants Danika was responsible for sending back to Mexico. His murder was never solved. But now, a recent string of attacks and arrests leads her to believe that someone in McAllen is profiting from sneaking undocumented immigrants into the country . . . and it may somehow be tied to Toby’s death.

If you like mysteries but appreciate a smart, moving story more than CSI details of human horror, I highly recommend this book and this series.

Do you like mysteries? And what about [here comes the “whammy” question] Christian fiction? What are you reading right now?

Disclosure: This book was provided for review by the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, and this post includes Amazon affiliate links.


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