Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Mountains Bow Down: A Decent Mystery in the Christian Fiction Genre

One beef I have with Christian fiction is that it rarely offers good mystery novels, so when Book Sneeze offered free copies of The Mountains Bow Down by Sibella Giorello to bloggers, I ordered one. I was pleasantly surprised. As a mystery, it’s not bad: Raleigh Harmon, a geologist with the FBI, is on an Alaskan cruise when she is the first to recognize that the suicide of an on-board movie star’s wife is not actually suicide. The book took a bit too long to hook me, and a few plot details didn’t seem to fit quite right, but it was interesting enough to keep me reading and to add the previous novels in the series to my to-read list.

As far as its Christian label goes, I have mixed opinions. Not having read the previous books, I spent the first two-thirds of the story trying to guess which characters were Christians. None of them seemed to demonstrate their faith beyond general Bible knowledge that even an atheist might possess. When God is first mentioned somewhere around page 100, Raleigh is offering Him a halfhearted prayer for forgiveness for lying to her mother about her chosen career, but she doesn’t change her actions or tell the truth. On the other hand, when Raleigh’s thoughts about her faith in Christ finally do go farther in depth, Giorello handles the ideas well. She includes them naturally within the storyline and doesn’t tack on awkward sermonettes the way many Christian authors do. Still, I would have liked to have seen God making more of a difference in the characters’ lives throughout the book.

The Mountains Bow Down isn’t a great book, and Giorello isn’t likely to be mentioned with G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy Sayers on a list of great Christian mystery writers, but the novel was good for a few hours of entertainment, and I’m happy to have found a decent mystery in the Christian fiction genre.