“According to Their Deeds” is written by acclaimed author Paul Robertson. This novel is his follow-up to “The Heir” and “Road to Nowhere”. In this novel, Charles Beale is a dealer of antique books who owns and operates a successful bookstore in the Washington, DC area. The story begins with Charles attending an auction of a former client and friend murdered through a suspicious break-in that went bad. Charles acquires several volumes that he had sold to his client at the auction. One of the books is holding papers of secret “sins” of a number of prestigious individuals in Washington. Charles is left with a moral dilemma where he must decide whether to come forth and potentially ruin many lives or stay silent and have all that he cares about become a potential target of those searching for this information.
Charles does not take this dilemma lightly, and the novel proceeds with many positive elements. His decision moves him through a number of encounters where he gathers evidence to further help him in his decision. This well written novel keeps you engaged in Charles’ next step. I especially enjoyed the dialogues and the banter between Charles and his wife and employees. He comes to life through this book and is a very likable character. I was also intrigued by his dilemma and found myself wanting to keep reading to see what he would do next. There were also a number of references to classical literature integrated into the book that most well-read readers would enjoy as well. I also liked the structure of the book. The chapters were not number but rather written almost in a diary or journal format where morning, afternoon and evening would be followed by a memory of a discussion or interaction Charles had with his client and friend who had been murdered. These discussions although short, were often intriguing and deep, and they were related to an element Charles was dealing with in that point of the story. At times, I found myself wanting more of these!
This book was categorized as a suspense, the book reads more as a murder mystery than what I would associate with a suspense novel. For the mystery genre, it was very satisfying. However, since I thought I was going to be reading a suspense, I expected more action throughout the book rather than towards the end of the novel. That being said, I am not sure this is a fair assessment, because Robertson does write well and delivers enjoyable and compelling characters. Since this was my first book of his that I have read, I would read some more, in hopes that the suspense would offer more action for my bias.
I also was hoping to see more spiritual content. Since this was Christian suspense, it seems that Charles uses his own standards and references these standards according to the discussions with his client. I was hoping that he would also show his reliance on God and on prayer to help him through this dilemma. Instead, we are given some examples through Charles’ mercy and grace to a young man who he takes in through surprising circumstances. Unfortunately, this may be more of a reflection of the publishing world today where it is OK to show Christ-likeness in a character rather than the character seeking Christ in novels.
All in all, I would recommend this novel to those seeking a mystery with a twist of morality. It is well written, delivers a positive message with intriguing characters. ~ Mike
About the Author ~
Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and the author of The Heir. He is also a former Christian bookstore owner (for 15 years), who lives with his family in Blacksburg, Virginia.
About the Book ~
A Deadly Game of Justice Versus Mercy Charles Beale lives outside the shadow of Washington, D.C. Politics and power matter only when a client crosses the Potomac to visit his Alexandria Rare Books shop.
But that all changes when a former client–a man deeply connected in the Justice Department–is found murdered after a break-in gone bad. When Charles reclaims at auction the books he’d once sold, he quickly discovers he’s bought more trouble than he could have ever imagined.
Inside one volume are secrets. A collection of sins that, if revealed, could destroy reputations, careers–even lives. Charles soon learns he isn’t the only who knows. Going to the police means ruining a multitude of lives. But staying silent puts a target on his shop, his wife–and himself. Charles must decide: Should one mistake really cost you everything?