My Blog

Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dark Debts

In Dark Debts, Karen Hall masterfully combines southern gothic, romantic comedy, and mystery in a wildly original theological thriller that has become a cult favorite since being published twenty years ago. In this new anniversary edition, the author has reimagined her work. The result is a suspenseful, irreverent, and deeply spiritual novel that captivates from the very beginning and doesn’t let go.
When Randa, a reporter for an alternative newspaper in Los Angeles, receives an urgent phone call from her estranged lover, Cam, she rushes to his apartment. She arrives to discover that he’s leapt from the building to his death. Police believe that before committing suicide, Cam also murdered someone in a convenience store, but Randa does not believe Cam is capable of such an act. She seeks out Cam’s brother, Jack, who is living off the grid, somewhere near Atlanta, in hope of figuring out what really happened.
Meanwhile, a Jesuit priest named Michael Kinney has been exiled from New York City to the boondocks of Georgia after making controversial public statements. He has said things that educated people of faith are not supposed to express. Even more problematically, he has fallen in love with a woman, and the last surviving member of his family has kept a shocking family secret from him.
How these characters converge is part of the thrilling mystery of Dark Debts, a cult favorite first published twenty years ago. In this new edition, author Karen Hall has re-imaged her southern gothic tale and the result is a work of even greater power—a brilliantly realized and suspenseful evocation of the conflict between good and evil.

Dark Debts (Thriller)
By Karen Hall
Simon & Schuster
ISBN #978-1501104114
Price $13.50
415 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“Satanic Possession.”

When Randa Phillips gets a call from her old boyfriend, Cam Landry, asking her to come over, she does, only to discover he has jumped from his widow in an act of suicide. To Randa, a newspaper reporter, it doesn’t make sense. Cam had just received a two hundred thousand dollar advance for his next book. Everything appeared to be going his way. Suicide could not be true. Now she felt responsible for getting his property to a brother that may not ever care that he had died. When Randa starts digging deeper into his background, she discovers a family secret so horrible it has resulted in many deaths and other atrocities.

Father Michael Kinney, a catholic Jesuit priest is called in by family friends to talk to their son, whom the parents believe is possessed. What he finds is too big for him to handle alone, and the church power refuses to help him, so he seeks the aid of an independent priest who has performed exorcisms before, but the demon is too powerful for them, and before the church can save the boy he murders his parents, leaving Father Kinney feeling partly responsible. But when his mentor dies, he learns there is a deeper secret that goes beyond the boy, and connects to an evil even more powerful than he imagined, tying him into a family cursed through several generations.

 The writing was excellent, and the story moved smoothly. In a world of evil, when men are as evil as the demons they hope to defeat, the battle seems to be unwinnable. Demons know our weaknesses before we will admit them, and they use those weaknesses to possess our bodies. The author uses the Catholic Church and priests in this story, but she could have used men of any denomination, for men are sinful regardless of what cloth they wear. To see men trying to solve problems while wallowing in their own sin is likely a sin against God itself. First, we need to truly turn over our lives to Him before we can act for Him. That the world is filled with such sin can be seen all around us, and the author paints a clear picture of one family’s curse, but doesn’t notice how large the problem really is. Still, the painting is plain, and the message is clear. There is a war going on. A war between Good and Evil. I did get the impression that the author did not believe the Bible, her characters often calling it a book of fairy tales. I wasn’t so disturbed, as one reviewer was, by Jesus wearing jeens in the story, only that the Bible tells us when He returns, He will return in all His Glory, and all eyes will see Him. To have Him appearing to the priest in jeens, or anything else, was not a good idea. But I highly recommend this as a work of fiction. The story of a family possessed could give you nightmares – if you don’t have the Savior.

Tom Johnson


No comments:

Post a Comment