Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage



Gone With the Groom
by Janice Thompson

Reviewed by Carol Kurtz

"Thompson beautifully portrays a mother's heart."

Sasha’s back! Along with Annie, Sheila, and the rest of Clarksborough, PA. And like seeing old friends, we’re happy they’re here. After Sasha and Annie save the day in The Wedding Caper, this dachshund/mother duo now has a missing groom on their hands. Annie’s daughter Brandi is just about to marry “said groom” (to use Annie’s vernacular) when it happens. The devoted Christian mother of two twin daughters and a son, as well as the extremely submissive wife of Warren, Annie manages to fulfill her never ending duties as mother-of-the-bride while trying to find her missing future son-in-law, Scott.

Last time Sasha was the center of attention, involved in most of Annie’s antics. But this time Sasha makes only a scant appearance in the story during the first half, even when the scenes take place in her home, where the dog should be around somewhere. Then it’s almost as if Thompson remembers her mid-stream, and Sasha is rushed to the hospital after getting into a bottle of heart medication. We see for the first time in this book the love and concern Annie and Warren had for Sasha all along. And from this point on, Sasha once again becomes an entertaining and integral part of the sleuthing for the rest of the story. In fact, she ends up having an even more prominent role in solving the crime.

Annie’s thoughts and observations are humorous and relatable. “A tightening in my gut signaled a problem. I shouldn’t have skipped breakfast–not on a day like today. I needed protein–or at the very least, artificial sweetener...” and her well intended but unsuccessful efforts to get to the gym in order to fit into her dress for the wedding are a constant source of guilt for her, but in a funny way.

Try not to notice that although Scott’s cell phone sends a few cryptic messages, the police never check for pings, which might give them its location. And we’ve got a cornucopia of possible suspects here. The pharmaceutical company Scott works for is having trouble getting FDA approval for its new drug, and the companies very existence depends on it. Could Scott’s concerns about the dangerous side effects caused someone to get him out of the way? And what about Brandi’s new job at the real estate agency, and the scam she is discovering?

Scott’s mother is running for city council of her home town. Could her crooked political opponents have tried to distract her by kidnaping Scott? Could his estranged biological father, who has just surfaced after years of absence have something to do with it? Or did he just get cold feet and become a runaway groom? With the wedding fast approaching on Valentine’s Day, should they cancel it or continue to pay the vendors?

There is a deep bond between the women in the story, both spiritual and emotional, as they gather around the hurting family. We see them stand by each other, forgive past hurts, hold one another up in prayer, and share each other’s burdens. These women are guided by the Spirit, comforted by the Scriptures, and eventually led to the answers they desperately need. Thompson beautifully portrays a mother’s heart.

With a prolonged feel-good ending, there are no loose ends left to our imagination. But it’s fun to solve the crime along with Annie, as Thompson gives us just enough clues without giving it away. And there’s a surprise addition to the family, who I suspect will be joining the “Agatha Annie Crime Solving Agency” next time. At least, I hope so.

Carol Kurtz Darlington is a certified personal trainer and a certified group fitness instructor who works with people who want to lose weight as well as those who just want to enjoy better health. She enjoys empowering and encouraging others to reach their health and fitness goals, feel better about themselves in the process, and enjoy more energy to stay active in all areas of their lives. She is the founder of Totally Fit With Carol, a Christian weight loss website featuring workout videos, health tips, exercise advice, and more. She loves her morning cappuccino and her beloved grand-dog. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and haunting Starbucks.