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Winter Haven
Author:  Athol Dickson
Publisher: Bethany House
A modern day spinster; an autistic brother's body washes up on a New England shore looking thirteen years younger than his actual age; a Gothic, fictional island with crashing waves and haunted by the ghosts of pilgrims.    Athol Dickson's novel, Winter Haven has all of the elements for the making of a compulsive page-turning mystery romance.  Unfortunately, it fails to engage almost at every turn.  
Heroine, Vera Gamble goes to the Maine Island, Winter Haven, to identify her autistic brother's body.  Along the way she encounters haunted tales, a grand mansion overlooking a turbulent ocean and, hold on to your seats the man of her dreams.   The narrative reduces much of this story to the level of a Harlequin romance while it aspires to Stephen King territory.  The most interesting character is the brother who can only communicate through Bible verses.  But he remains unexplored and the main character and her hero remain flat and cardboard like instead of flesh and blood human beings.  The spiritual aspect is awkwardly worked in, but doesn't resonate in a way that suggests it is woven into the overall story.  The main character happens to be a Christian and prays once in a while. The most important part of the story arrives at the end, a vision of Vera's dead brother, but with such dull characters, its hard to be moved.  

That's about it.  I'd have to recommend picking up Stephen King who, while not a Christian, manages to truly engage the reader.  For a Christian worldview, I'd suggest recent novels by John Grisham who appears to have embraced the Christian faith.   
Terry Roland



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