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Life has changed a bit for reporter Christine Maxwell since Pastor John Cross, formerly of the CIA, rescued her from a terrorist execution. As a new believer, she’s still learning to maintain a Christ-like attitude when faced with life’s everyday challenges. As the girlfriend of a man with many enemies, she’s also learned spy tradecraft and self-defense.

Cross Shadow (the sequel to A Cross to Kill), opens with Christine identifying a suicide bomber on a New York subway. Her new training and faith are put to the test as she throws herself into another dangerous situation. While everything works out and seems resolved, John is disturbed that he wasn’t there to protect her himself as he struggles to figure out exactly where he belongs. Is the church where God really wants him, or is it time to move on?

Moments after thwarting the terrorist attack, Christine receives more bad news. Her stepbrother in Texas has beeen arrested for murder. With every intention of using the skills she’s honed as a reporter to work out the truth, she doesn’t want John to get involved. The protective preacher can’t stay away, though, and follows her. Soon fists and bullets are flying as they find themselves investigating a mystery that’s much larger than a nightclub killing.

Once again, author Andrew Huff excels at creating gripping action sequences that practically throw sparks off the page. But there’s more than physical conflict here. Pastors should be honest, but spies are deceitful by nature of their jobs. With one foot in each world, John Cross struggles to use the tools he knows best, while still maintaining the integrity of his calling. Sometimes he stumbles.

In 1 John we read, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin.” This is the thought at the center of Cross Shadow, and Huff uses his tale of espionage to consider it without ever getting heavy-handed.

If there’s a criticism to be made, it’s that the murder, set up as the central mystery, takes a backseat to an entirely different plot. Still, with well-drawn characters, thrilling action, and provoking questions, all is easily forgiven. (Kregel)

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