Nick Polchak, Forensic Entomologist, returns in this gripping Christian thriller. A week before his marriage, Nick is summoned to meet with an old friend. He leaves, and after not hearing from him, his fiancée, Alena, decides her and her dogs need to go hunting for him – hopefully alive. Taking a journey to the Poconos on the trail of murder, Nick and Alena simultaneously work the case, barely missing each other amidst the small town and poor cell reception.
Suspenseful and thrilling, Downs excellently presents a novel of good taste. With an ending that lets the reader finish their own personal story, a provision of hope permits creativity that opens for a sequel. The character development was excellent. While dialogue was slightly complex at times, it enhanced the setting. For a Christian novel, however, a redefinition of Christian is necessary. While a pastor appears at times, this character does not provide any solid scriptural advice, instead relying on personal experience. Several elements existed that would challenge more traditional Christian viewpoint: presence of alcohol in scenes, murder investigations (blood spatter, bugs, etc.), and more prominently: the marrying of a Christian to a non-Christian. This element in itself promises struggle, and at one point, the protagonist (Polchak) comes to a point where he questions what lies beyond, but the moment is so brief and underdeveloped that we are quickly swept away from it, as if the writer feared inclusion of religious elements might cause a loss in readership. Instead of including Christian elements to a mystery/thriller, Downs instead removed traditional negative elements to murder mystery, primarily sex and adult language.
An excellent and enjoyable read, “Nick of Time” is a great thriller to be read, but not considered as “Christian thriller.” This book adds to the increase in non-overtly religious material and/or questionable religious beliefs for the publisher, Thomas Nelson, which once held high esteem over quality and accuracy of Christian theology. The buyout of a secular firm, and recent transition of CEO, indicate the potential source for the recent lax guidelines.
Disclosure: I have received a reviewer copy and/or payment in exchange for an honest review of the product mentioned in this post.