Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book Review: THE BETRAYAL by Jerry Jenkins

Book Two in the Precinct 11 trilogy
from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois (Copyright 2011; released 1 September 2011)
400-page trade paperback, $14.99
ISBN: 978-0-4143-0908-8

From Jenkins's website
"As a longtime Chicagoan, the son of a police chief, and the brother of two cops, I found this writing a labor of love."

Back Cover Copy:

Detective Boone Drake has just pulled off the most massive sting in Chicago history, bringing down the heads of not only the biggest street gangs in the city but also the old crime syndicate. The story is the biggest in decades, and the Chicago Police Department must protect the key witness at all costs. Yet despite top secret plans to transfer the witness prior to his testimony before the grand jury, an attempt is made on his life.

It soon becomes apparent that someone inside the Chicago PD leaked information to the shooter. As evidence mounts and suspicion points too close to home, Boone doesn't know whom he can trust. An investigation reveals that the turncoat might be someone very close to him, even someone he loves--or is someone just trying to cover up corruption at the highest level of the police department? Trusting the wrong person could prove fatal.
The Betrayal is as fresh at today's Chicago Tribune. Literally. The windy city has survived more than its fair share of corruption scandals through its history, including some that are currently being unraveled. One in particular shares several markers with Jenkins's latest novel, though the two don't run parallel.
     I made a quick call to Jenkins's office to see if the current high-level case--involving officers with CPD's elite Special Operations Section (SOS)--influenced him at all. His assistant said no. "He has been planning this trilogy for several years. Since his father was a police chief and two brothers are police officers, he's heard their stories." Thus, the verisimilitude.
     Confession: cop thrillers are not my genre of choice. Though I read and loved Jenkins's Left Behind series, eagerly awaiting each new release, would this book hold that same attraction? Then I read the first four paragraphs.
Boone Drake awoke before sunup with little recollection of the previous two days. [All right. The hook was in my mouth. But it wasn't set yet.]
Oh, he knew the basics--where he was, that he was fortunate to be alive. Two uniformed officers still guarded his door. The noises and odors invaded his room at what everyone still called Cook County Hospital. And slowly, it all began to come back.
Boone, a detective in the Gang Enforcement Section of the Chicago Police Department, had masterminded the most massive sting in CPD history, bringing down the heads of not only the biggest street gangs in the city but also the Outfit--the old crime syndicate.
Key to the operation had been the secret spiritual conversion of gang kingpin Pascual Candelario--and his becoming an informant. [By the time I got to this point, I was hooked.]
The Betrayal  picks up where the first book in the trilogy, The Brotherhood,
leaves off, with Boone Drake in the hospital recovering from the wound left by a 45 caliber Glock slug that had slammed into his chest as he tried to protect Candelario, crook turned Christian. And state's evidence. By all rights, Drake should be receiving a hero's accolades from the department while relaxing and recuperating. Instead, amid accusations against the integrity and reputation of Haeley Lamonica, also a CPD officer and the love of Drake's life, he sets out to clear her name, if she's as innocent as he believes her to be, by uncovering corruption in high places.
     The rapid-fire action propels the reader through the thirty-seven chapters and the epilogue, allowing very little time to gasp for air. As I neared the end, I couldn't lay it down and turn off the light to sleep. If at any point I dared to slip into complacency, sure that I knew what was coming, Jenkins switched things up and sent my heart into overdrive.
     There were times when I was concerned that too much would be revealed about pre- and extra-marital relationships. Also, when Haeley Lamonica is in jail, there is opportunity to go into graphic detail about life and abuse in such a place. I needn't have worried. Jenkins proved himself capable of handling such issues in the Left Behind series, never crossing the line of Christian propriety, proving that a skilled writer need not include gratuitous and offensive details to convey a point.
     Jenkins's characters are well developed and realistic. Even though, as a detective in CPD's Gang Enforcement Section, Drake moves among the dregs of vice, he holds to a high standard, one that reflects Jesus Christ in both his personal and professional life. Those around him who are corrupt spend little time in trying to entice him to betray his calling. They'd rather see him dead.

"Dianna, my wife of 40 years, is my everything," says best-selling author Jerry Jenkins

      Jenkins began his writing career as a sports reporter for his local newspaper. He is former editor of Moody Magazine, vice president for publishing, and now chairman of the board of trustees for the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. He is author of more than 175 books, including the 70,000,000-selling Left Behind series. He holds honorary doctorates from Bethel College (Indiana), Trinity International University (Illinois), Colorado Christian University, Huntington University (Indiana), and Tennessee Temple University.
      Riven, which Jenkins considers his life's work novel, released in July 2008 to stellar reviews and has been optioned for a movie.
      His articles have appeared in Time, Reader's Digest, Parade, and Guideposts. He is contributing editor for Writer's Digest.
      He has co-written novels and non-fiction as-told-to autobiographies with Tim LaHaye, Bill Gaither, Billy Graham, John Perrodin, Dallas Jenkins (his son), Chris Fabry,  and Ron DiCianni.
      Writers often receive advice to "find the genre you're good in and stick to that." Jenkins either didn't get the message or he chose to disregard it, because he writes with ease in numerous genres, including speculative fiction, cop thrillers, an international spy thriller, and Christian counseling and motivational non-fiction.

Further, he owns Jenkins Entertainment, a Chicago-based film-making company, and Christian Writers Guild. He is an in-demand speaker, especially on the subject of writing, and a popular humorist.

He and wife Dianna live in Colorado. They have three grown sons and eight grandchildren.

Read more about the life and work of Jerry Jenkins here.

Read on!
Because of Christ,

Disclosure of Material Connection: Review copy provided by publisher. A positive review was not required; opinions expressed are those of the reviewer, Sharon Kirk Clifton.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Remembering Grandparents--the WRITE Way

Grandparents' Day became a national holiday in 1978. It is the first Sunday following Labor Day. This year, it falls on September 11.

Grandma Kirk was a strong-willed, independent Quaker woman whose house always smelled of apples and who grew beautiful flowers. Throughout the growing season, vases of cone flowers, sweet peas, four-o'clocks, daisies, dahlias, zinnias, rosies and posies I couldn't possibly name adorned tables throughout her home. She loved me. Sternly.

Grandpa Kirk was the gentler of the two. He spoke little, but lovingly, and he smiled. Such a smile! It spread all the way up to his eyes. He teased, too. Grandpa was an engineer, though I didn't find that out until I grew up. He was the one who tooled up the old Maxwell automobile factory in New Castle, Indiana. (It later became the Chrysler factory.) And if anything went wrong with one of those huge machines, they called Grandpa to fix it. He was the only one who could. He was also a farmer, though his farming days were past by the time I came onto the scene.

A cousin who, by virtue of being older, knew them longer, told me recently that they both loved the Lord deeply.  That blessed me.

I hardly got a chance to know Grandpa Wright, Mama's daddy. He died when I was six or seven. Memories of him come in fragments: because he was tall, he had a broad, comfortable lap; he smoked a wonderfully fragrant pipe; he liked pink wintergreen lozenges; he loved me. Grandma Wright departed this earth before I was born.

Even though all my grandparents were gone by the time I was ten, they impacted my life. So with the approach of NGD, I considered how I could best honor their memory. Write a book, I decided. For a few years now, an idea for a children's picture book about the relationship between a little boy and his grandmother has been niggling about in the back of my mind. This would be a good time to write the first draft of that manuscript.

Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, I urge you to record memories of your own grandparents. Provide details. Preserve them for posterity.

It's Your Turn:  How do you plan to celebrate National Grandparents' Day? Leave a comment, if it please you. It would certainly please me!

Write on!
Because of Christ

Quotations about Grandparents
Bill Cosby--"What is it about grandparents that is so lovely? I'd like to say that grandparents are God's gifts to children. And if they can but see, hear and feel what these people have to give, they can mature at a fast rate."

Eth Clifford--"My grandfather was a giant of a man ... When he walked, the earth shook. When he laughed, the birds fell out of the trees. His hair caught fire from the sun. His eyes were patches of sky."

Lord Chesterfield--"Being pretty on the inside means you don't hit your brother and you eat all your peas — that's what my grandma taught me."

Louisa May Alcott--"A house needs a grandma in it."
Irina Baronove-Tennant--"It's so important to give your children and grandchildren inspiration ... Teach them to notice, to pay attention, to appreciate, and to be inquisitive. Don't just look, try to see."

Teresa Bloomingdale--"If your baby is 'beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, sleeps on schedule and burps on demand, an angel all the time,' you're the grandma."

Marcy DeMaree--"Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete."

Vaughn J. Featherstone--"What a wonderful contribution our grandmothers and grandfathers can make if they will share some of the rich experiences and their testimonies with their children and grandchildren."

Find more at

Write on!
Because of Christ,

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Writing Amish

Each year I am privileged to travel to LaGrange County, Indiana, to tell stories as "Jack's Mama" at David Rogers Days, held the fourth weekend of August. DRD is one of Indiana's hidden jewels, as festivals go. Set in the log cabin village of David Rogers Park, it is in the heart of Indiana's northern Amish country. The event celebrates this state's pioneer heritage, as well as the life and philanthropy of the man for whom it is named. The rolling hills, large black walnut trees, wildflower meadows, and verdant farmland provide a beautiful setting. Guests pay a modest gate fee to enjoy traditional acoustic music, a sleight-of-hand artist (who also swallows fire and serves as ringmaster for a flea circus), a Punch and Judy show, strolling entertainers, a large interactive children's area, early American dance instruction, and various pioneer reenactors demonstrating such things as spinning, weaving, smithing, and bowl-making. Most of all, I love the audiences, many of whom are Old Order Amish.
       This year's festival was different for me because I've read several works of "kapp fiction." While it's not my genre to write, I enjoy reading them. I'm most familiar with the works of Beverly Lewis, Wanda Brunstetter, and Cindy Woodsmall. I've heard that kapp fiction is popular among the Amish, especially if the local Bishop permits them. But how accurately do they portray Amish life, I've wondered, since the best fiction is firmly rooted in truth.
       One of the Saturday vendors at DRD was a gracious Amish woman named Kathryn. She was selling some of the foods eaten following the church service on Preaching Sundays: homemade dill pickles, the best I've ever tasted; fried pies, Amish peanut butter, snickerdoodles, huge gingersnaps, sour cream sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, and cheese wedges. After discussing food and swapping recipes, we got on the subject of Amish fiction.
       "Do you read them?" I asked.
       "Jah. Wanda Brunstetter. Beverly Lewis. I read them when I get time." Of course, having read the books, I knew exactly what she meant, since they rise early and work long.
       "How accurate are they to your lives?"
       "A few are very accurate. Those ladies, for example. But many are not."
       I told her I check out the credentials of the writer and look at the acknowledgements page. Does the author thank members of the Amish community who proofed the manuscript for accuracy? Obviously they can't if they didn't invite some knowledgeable reader to critique the work.
      "Sometimes," Kathryn said, "writers will include things that either are not a part of the Amish way of life or are peculiar to a particular community." She indicated that she shuns the work of writers who are careless with the facts.
      I appreciate when authors are clear about the setting of time, place, and, in the case of kapp fiction, specific community. As with any kind of writing, it behooves us to do the research.