Title: A Cross to Kill
Author: Andrew Huff
Series: Shepherd Suspense, book 1
Major Themes: Christian Fiction, Mysteries, Suspense, Thrillers, Men’s Fiction
Synopsis: Still running from his past, John Cross rescues Christine Lewis from certain death—but he doesn’t know that this will cause even more trouble for him.
I don’t remember what happened between the time I picked up A Cross to Kill and the time I looked down and realized I was 30% of the way through the story already. I think life may have happened, but I do remember that time went rather quickly—in a blur of a well-told adventure story. And I was impressed. I didn’t necessarily even like some of the things that happened in that first 30%, and I was slightly confused as to what was happening at times, but I do know that never once was I tempted to lay the book aside in preference to a more urgent job.
The author hooked me from the first line, for which I credit him with a touch of genius. I’m rarely invested in a story from the first line—you’re doing well if you’ve captured my attention by the end of chapter two!
“Millions of people would witness the murder of Christine Lewis, and not one of them could do anything to stop it.”
If that isn’t a “gotcha” from the word go, I don’t know what is!
Though I don’t know if I would read any more books in this series—for a reason I’ll explain soon—there were a few things that surprised me about this book. The biggest, I think, was the fact that the main character didn’t want to take life. Though there did end up being quite a bit of violence in the story, which I didn’t enjoy, that was on par for the genre and setting, and I was impressed that despite everything, the main character did still try to make sure that he never killed anyone. As a Christian, I appreciated reading about a character that’s trying to act in a Godly way. The other thing that surprised me was the swearing in this book. I don’t think there was one time that I was tempted to mark up language in this book (and for me, I feel like that’s saying something!), and though at different times we are told that a character swore, cursed, or used a bad word, the word isn’t explicitly written out here. I loved that.
The reason why I’m not sure I’d want to read any more books in the series is because of the level of violence here. I’m always up for some thrill and adventure, but this felt almost extreme to me (but perhaps that’s the way it was supposed to be?). In some aspects, it felt like a children’s adventure novel grown up—it got to the point where it was almost too hard to believe that the main character or others around him didn’t get seriously hurt or killed because of what they were doing.
The Christian element? It was good. I did question how far one can go and not be sinning, as some people were badly hurt in here, and there were also different instances where vehicles were stolen and used as get-away cars. The question of how much is too much is something we all have to grapple with. I did appreciate how the gospel naturally flowed in this story. Trying to live for Jesus—no matter what our past looked like—is always a challenge, and it’s especially hard when we’re still dealing with guilt over what’s past. There were some beautiful themes in A Cross to Kill, and for that, I really enjoyed it.
I requested a free review copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.
WARNING: This book is not for anyone under mid-teens or so. Even though it’s a thriller and a fairly clean one at that, it does have some pretty tense, dangerous scenes where people almost get killed, so please bear that in mind when you buy the book.
In ch. 1 – 3, a character’s life is threatened (pretty graphic), there is fighting and shooting, and people are injured. Fairly graphic throughout. There is more fighting, with people hurt and almost killed along with some lives threatened, in ch. 11 – 14. Again, pretty graphic. A man’s life is again threatened in ch. 15. A man thinks about his decision to kill someone in ch. 16. There is a mention of someone who was hung and killed in ch. 17. Someone is thinking about children’s lives being threatened in ch. 18, and later on from ch. 18 – 20, there is more fighting with car crashes and shooting, people’s lives threatened and others hurt. People are shown with weapons and knives in ch. 25. Then in ch. 26, there is more fighting with the intention of killing (again, fairly graphic). People’s lives are threatened in a car chase that involved a lot of shooting in ch. 28 – 31, more people were hurt, vehicles were smashed, a bomb is set off, and someone is presumably killed. A man tries to shoot someone and he is hurt in ch. 32.
There is lying in ch. 5, 7, 8, 10, 17 (at least twice), and 22. People watch part of a Muslim execution video in ch. 7. There is touching between unmarried people in ch. 10 and 11. In ch. 10, characters talk about someone’s past job doing planned assassinations. There is a mention of a naked man in ch. 16. There is swearing in ch. 17, and oaths or cursing is mentioned in ch. 17 (this contains the first part of a word), 19, and 31. “Goodness” is used in ch. 21. Self-defense is mentioned as a good thing in ch. 17. People are hurt in ch. 21, 22, and 25. There is stealing throughout the book, and I noted one place in ch. 25. There is some somewhat graphic talking about people who were killed in ch. 25, and 26. In ch. 30, someone says, “God will forgive you if you shoot him in the head.”