Today, I’m delighted to host Gwen Plano as she continues her blog tour for her new mystery-thriller, Redemption: A Father’s Fatal Decision. Gwen is one of my Story Empire colleagues and one of the kindest bloggy types around. If you’ve visited her site, you already know she not only writes riveting books, but she’s a poet, often sharing her reflections on life and the breathtaking beauty of the Arizona desert where she lives.
I’ve read and reviewed all of Gwen’s thrillers including this new one, which I scooped up as soon as it came out. My review is below, but before we go there: Here’s Gwen:
Thank you, Diana, for inviting me to your lovely site today. It’s a pleasure to visit you and your followers to share a bit about my new release. I look forward to doing the same for you.
Redemption, A Father’s Fatal Decision is a mystery thriller that takes place in the southeast corner of New York state, in the towns of New Rochelle and Cortlandt. Having spent about twenty years in and around that area, it was exciting to visit as a writer.
The book tackles themes of forgiveness and redemption through the medium of suspense. We accompany the son and daughter of the deceased as they try to uncover the reason for their father’s murder. What they discover prompts them to ask if they even knew him.
Sometimes complicated situations help us see our own challenges in a different light. That is my hope for this book. Most of us won’t experience threats like those of my characters, but pain is universal, as is joy. Seeing either in the extreme helps us recognize our own—and severe or elated, those emotions are impactful.
In the excerpt below, the protagonist, Trace Holmes, is at the hospital, visiting with his mother. He has a letter from his deceased father. It is a confession.
Family secrets can be deadly. When Lisa Holmes visits her parents one fateful Saturday morning, she hugs her father and walks to her childhood bedroom. The doorbell rings. Her father opens the door, and one minute later, he lies dead on the floor—three bullets to the chest.
The Holmes family lives on a quiet street, but no one really knows Eric Holmes. He travels for business and comes home a few days each month. Unbeknown to all, Eric has multiple lives.
In this fast-paced psychological thriller, Lisa and her brother, Trace, embark on a quest to solve the mystery involving the murder of their father. The journey takes them into a secret world where nothing is as it seems. As the puzzle pieces begin to coalesce, they discover the meaning of Redemption.
A child and his mother ride the elevator with Trace to the second floor. “I’m visiting my daddy,” the child says as he fiddles with the toy superhero in his hands.
Trace smiles. “I hope he gets better soon.”
“My daddy fell off a ladder, but when he’s strong again, we’re going fishing.”
“You’re a lucky young man.”
Trace pauses outside the door to his mother’s room and thinks about the little boy and the child’s mother. Tenderness wells in his heart. Mom did what she could to protect my innocence. There were moments, he recalls. Moments. He calls out, “Hi, Mom.”
Katherine sits in a wheelchair, unaided, and looks out the window. In a faint voice she says, “Trace.” She reaches for his hand. He bends, kisses her, and moves a chair to sit beside her.
“I can see you’re feeling better. I’m so relieved. You look beautiful. I like your new bandana. A Lisa special?”
Her happy expression communicates yes, and she adds, falteringly, “I’ll b-be able to go h-home s-soon. Please, don’t w-worry.”
Trace takes her hand and fights the tears that want to flee his conflicted heart. “I have something important to show you.”
Katherine studies her son. “W-whatever it i-is, we’ll f-face it together.”
Trace explains about the letter. His mom watches while he fingers it nervously. “R-read it o-out to me, son.” It seems as though she knows its contents. When he reads the words, she grimaces and closes her eyes. At times, she tightens her hold on Trace’s hand, but she doesn’t cry. A single sheet of paper holds the confession for which she had prayed.
She looks at Trace but doesn’t comment on the letter itself. Instead, she says, “N-now we b-begin a new l-life. One p-person’s actions d-don’t determine ours.
Lisa and Trace’s father was an abusive murderer and an international criminal, but when he’s killed, they begin a hunt for answers about his secret life and the reasons for his death. While their mother recovers from gunshot wounds in the hospital, she feeds them clues, and together with their childhood friend Ryan, they begin unraveling the mystery, finding secret messages and puzzle pieces everywhere they look.
The trio has one ally, but otherwise, they don’t know whom to trust, including law enforcement. Their mother’s home is ransacked, their hotel room is bugged, and they’re constantly tailed. They make a good team: personable, supportive of each other, and easy to root for. They’re also smart, their efforts highly successful and conclusions rarely mistaken. At one point they’re referred to as “The Sherlocks,” which I thought was perfect since, for me, the read leaned more toward a “cozy” thriller than an all-out nail-biter. There’s plenty of tension, but modest danger and minimal violence.
This present-tense story is told from the third-person perspectives of the three main characters. The pace is speedy throughout the book with short intermissions for Lisa and Trace to reflect on their childhood and how it impacted their lives. Themes of family dysfunction, redemption, atonement, and forgiveness unfold in these moments, setting the stage for further revelations and a heartwarming conclusion. The book has a Christian slant during these scenes, but it’s not preachy. Recommended to readers who enjoy cozy mysteries, sleuthing, and thrills, and like a solid message about letting go and healing from the past.
Author Bio and Links
Gwen Plano began writing after retiring from a long career in higher education. Her first book was an award-winning memoir. A thriller series soon followed. When she’s not writing, Gwen travels with her husband to both coasts to visit their adult children and grandkids. Nothing warms her heart more than being with family.
Story Empire: https://storyempire.com/gwen-m-plano
Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/3RebK0W
Amazon Purchase Page: https://amzn.to/3XKiLJn