Summary from BN.com: Carrie Carter’s small café in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals … although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin. When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But when Carrie’s own painful past becomes all to present, her carefully constructed world begins to sink. Will the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry?
It's been a while since there has been a new original book from Gayle Roper so I was anticipating this book very much. It's been a while since I've read a good mystery and I know I can get one from Roper's books. From the cover of the book, as well as the description of the story, I wasn't expecting religious cults to play a huge factor in the plot. Cults are something that both interest and disgust me at the same time. I never can understand how people get sucked into them. I found it incredibly sad at how Andi was forced by her parents to leave her home and join the cult. Reading about the polygamous marriages and how they were making young teenage girls get married to older men was despicable. I felt that Greg's reasons for why men and women join religious cults were good explanations yet very sad at the same time. I feel like religious cults are something that needs to be brought up more because Christians need to know when God's words are being twisted and used incorrectly and not get swept up by things that sound like they are right.
While I enjoyed the story a lot, I felt sometimes that the book was going in many different directions and didn't know which one it wanted to stick with. There were times it felt like a cozy mystery, then a romance story, then suspense, then women's fiction. The different points of view that kept changing threw me off a bit too. One chapter would be first person perspective from Carrie's POV and then it'd switched to Andi's third person POV, not to mention the murderer's side of the story as well. I wasn't a big fan of how the murderer was introduced. I felt it was way too obvious and not beneficial to continue from their POV after we had already met and figured out who it was. The last thing that irked me was how people who used twitter were portrayed in this story in a negative light. As far as I know, the author isn't active on Twitter so unless she is just lurking, I don't think she really knows how to use it. The Twitter users were portrayed as rude with bad social skills and glued to the Internet 24/7. Also the false misconception of how everything you do must be posted on Twitter is used again here. It bothered me because if someone actually uses the service then they know it is not like that at all.
Despite everything I said above, I really did enjoy this story. It's a good mystery and despite the beachy looking cover, it's not really a light read at all. As I mentioned earlier, there are dark things mentioned in this book that a lot of Christians don't really want to think about or read about in their books. This appears to be the first book in a series so I'm hoping that we will be returning back to Seaside for more adventures in the future.
Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper is published by Multnomah (2011)
This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance