Expected publication: July 19th 2011 by The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group.
I must admit, I had my doubts when I found out that this was in the Christian fiction genre. I am not the most religious person and I tend to keep my distance from conversations about religion. I was raised Catholic, did very well in my Religion classes, and even participated in a couple of bible studies and rosary crusades. But do not totally subscribe to the whole religion thing. I have beliefs and I respect other people’s beliefs (as long as they do not shove theirs down my throat). I just want to get that out of the way.
Having said that, I did enjoy reading this book. The story is set in Seaside, New Jersey where locals frequent a quaint cafe owned by Carrie Carter. Carrie and her sister Lindsey have an unstable past which they eventually overcame. Carrie is not-so secretly in love with one of their regulars, Greg Barnes. Some years ago, he lost his wife and children and succumbed to alcoholism to dull his pain. But the former cop rose above all that.
The town is rocked by the murder of a local boy which happened to be Carrie’s dishwasher. Then one of her waitresses disappear. Greg realizes her feelings toward Carrie. Carrie’s past comes back to haunt her. With everything happening all at the same time, will anything be resolved?
Basically, the book is divided in to two stories. One about Carrie and Greg and the other is the actual “mystery” as referred to in the title. Point of view shifts from Carrie to 3rd person and in some chapters, the “killer”. I am guessing the Carrie/Greg plot is the B-story. It was cute, a nice distraction from the whole murder mystery storyline, sort of the fill out the book. A good balance between romance and suspense. The chapters where the killer was the one talking were in italics and it did keep me guessing who he was. The twist about his identity was a surprise.
The characters were great as well. Carrie, so vulnerable and unsure. It was easy to relate and sympathize with her. I really wanted her to be happy. I could relate to Greg’s grief over losing his family. Everybody grieves differently and no matter what they say, the pain never really goes away completely. The author did a good job of assembling the mishmash of characters in Carrie’s Cafe. She definitely covered all the bases from the geeky guy (Ricky) to the wise old timer (Mr. Perkins).
Although there is one part of the book that I did not appreciate. In fact, it kind of offended me a little bit. I did not agree with the way users of social networking were portrayed. Not all “avid” users of social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are gullible individuals, harassing people we read about in those sites. I may be spoiling a bit here but I doubt if news spreads about something happening locally, especially in a small town, people will camp out in front of the scene of the crime or follow around a victim or a suspect asking him or her what happened. In real life. Talk about invasion of privacy. I know all about what being “Twitter famous” is all about but it is not at all how it was portrayed in this book. We “avid” social network patrons have a word for those overly invasive… creepers. And those of us who practice netiquette loathe to be bunched in with them. But I digress. This is another discussion altogether.
Having mentioned that this is a Christian Fiction story, there was not much quoting from the Bible as I first thought. It was not at all preachy. There were conversations with God and that did not bother me at all. Their internal struggles and conversations helped moved the story along and that’s what matters.
Recommendation: It is a good book club read. A nice book to accompany a pleasant afternoon.
Get your copy here.