The first time Jude Allman died, he was eight years old.
It happened after a day of ice fishing with his father William. Mid-January. Duck Lake. Twenty degrees above zero on the thermometer, and something far below that on the wind chill scale. Jude sat on an overturned pickle bucket most of the day, occasionally threading a hook through fresh corn or salmon eggs before dropping his line into the inky hole. A few times, when he was impatient for a bite, he put his face over the hole and cupped his hands to peer at the watery world beneath. He saw a few sunfish, but no perch--none of the perch his father considered such “good eatin.”
“Should be headin’ back,” William finally said. The comment startled Jude, partly because he himself had been ready to leave for hours, partly because it was only his father’s third sentence of the day. (The first two, respectively, had been “Ready to get goin’?” and “Hungry?”) Jude slid off the bucket and reeled in his line the last time. His hook had no salmon egg. Maybe an unseen good eatin perch had nibbled it, or maybe the egg had shriveled and slid into the chilly water, resigning itself to fate.
They gathered their gear and started toward the pickup. Jude counted each footfall: from memory, he knew it would be 327 steps.
For a long time, all Jude could hear was the steady crunch of their boots, amplified into a hollow echo by the ice. Every so often, a forced cough from his dad, one of those quick huffs to clear his lungs. Jude stared down at his boots, watching as he continued to count. Fifty-six, fifty-seven, fifty-eight. He lifted his gaze again to stare at William’s broad back, wishing he could match his father’s long, loping strides. It was 327 steps for him; how many would that be for his father? Seventy-two, seventy-three, seventy-four. He pictured his mother, waiting at home with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, maybe a cookie or two. Chocolate chip. Eighty-seven, eighty-eight, eighty--
For a moment, he felt like he was on the roller coaster at the county fair, gravity’s pull licking at his stomach.
Instantly, he knew what was happening. The lake was swallowing him, pulling him in, whispering his name.
He opened his mouth to call for his dad, to scream, to do anything, but the water was alive as it raced down his throat, and the bitter cold was a red starburst as he closed his eyes, and the world was a dark, fading memory as he felt himself sinking.
So begins T.L. Hines debut novel, Waking Lazarus, a suspense novel I highly recommend. (Published by Bethany.) A few reviews:
"Hines handles the numerous flashbacks and switches in point of view well, and has a deft touch in knowing just how much information to give and how much to withhold...not for the faint of heart. Readers who consider most faith thrillers too tame should find this satisfactorily chilling." --Publisher's Weekly
(STARRED REVIEW) "This taut inspirational thriller will keep readers guessing as to the identity of the perpetrator. Some disturbing scenes of children in peril may upset sensitive readers, but those who stick with this first-rate work populated with intriguing characters will be well rewarded with an exciting read. Highly recommended for CF and suspense collections." –Library Journal
And my own endorsement: "Provocative from the first line, intriguing to the last. WAKING LAZARUS is a thriller of strategic pacing, colored in tones of mystery and wonder. DON'T miss this exceptional debut."
You can read many more reviews at Tony’s Web site.
T.L. Hines is a wonderful addition to the suspense genre within CBA. This is a great novel to read—now on shelves—and an author to watch for the future.
By the way, you might recognize T.L. Hines's name as the guy who started the Christian Fiction Alliance blour. Tony will be signing copies of Waking Lazarus at ICRS in Denver, 1:30 Tuesday afternoon in the Bethany booth. (Robert Liparulo will be signing his book Along Comes a Horseman at the same time.)