The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

April 15, 2013

Jacque Gage: Missouri author writes compelling fiction

JOPLIN, Mo. — I just finished a book by an author I hadn't read before, but found I really liked.

Irene Hannon (a Missouri author) is an award-winning author specializing in romantic and suspense novels (I've told you I like to read "brain candy" when I'm on my own time.) She writes what is considered "Christian" or "inspirational" fiction.

Today's inspirational fiction differs from that of the past. In Hannon's words, her "books aren't preachy. The faith content is subtle and reflected more in characters' actions than in words. I prefer to show characters living their faith rather than talking about it."

"Vanished" by Irene Hannon features Moira, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative journalist. Moira is lost at night on an isolated, rain-slickened road when a woman frantically waving runs out in the road, right in front of her car. She slams on her brakes and fishtails, but it is too late. The last image she sees before she feels a solid thump on the side of the car is that of the woman with glazed, terror-filled eyes.

Moira careens across the road, crashing into a tree. From nowhere a man appears promising to call 911 and help the person she hit. After losing consciousness and finally coming to, she gets out of the car and realizes the man has not called 911. There also is no body and no man; there is only the image of the woman's terror-filled eyes burned in her memory.

Even though she calls the police and the deputy can't find any evidence of her hitting a woman, she can't let go of the memory. The authorities believe she only hit a deer and sustained a concussion. They are of no help.

She decides she cannot leave this alone Ñ the woman's terrified eyes and her own journalistic instincts will not allow it. So, she takes steps to solve the mystery.

Enter a handsome P.I. That's all I'll tell you. No spoilers here.

Moira does a couple of things that remind me of the TV shows where the background music is ominously bum-bum-bumming in the background. It's dark and storming. The heroine is obviously about to do something really stupid and dangerous. You are thinking, "You idiot!! Don't (you fill in the blank)!" But she does anyway, and the results make you want to jump out of your skin.

The characters here are well-developed. I like it when I can understand what motivates both the good guys and the bad guys. Also, this title had one of the most important qualities for my brain-candy reading: a satisfying conclusion.

This is the first title of Hannon's new series, "A Private Justice." I intend to go back and pick up titles from her others, "Guardians of Justice" and "Heroes of Quantico." Hannon writes in such a way that each book in a series can also be read as a stand-alone.

Joplin Public Library carries Hannon's titles in print, on CD and as downloadable e-books.

Jacque Gage is director of Joplin Public Library.

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