Christian singer/songwriter Parker James is teetering on the brink of her big break when a college student is murdered in the studio where she works. As her detective brother investigates the crime, Parker indulges in some probing of her own, eventually leading her to discover high-level industry corruption. As more facts are revealed, Parker learns that there is more to this murder than meets the eye, and not everyone is what they appear to be…including the victim.
A mysterious stalker and a variety of tough choices for Parker combine to make DOUBLE MINDS a fascinating “whodunit”-goes-Nashville. Veteran author Terry Blackstock provides enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing, and an inside perspective on the Christian music industry adds a nice sidebar to the murder mystery.
Parker is in the midst of performing a concert for a teen church group when she receives a call from her brother, Detective Gibson James. “There’s been a shooting at Colgate,” he tells her, referring to the studio where she works as a receptionist. She soon finds out that the victim is Brenna Evans, a college intern who was filling in for her at the front desk. Shocked and distraught, she talks to the police, then meets up with Serene, her lifelong friend and the singer for whom Parker writes songs. Serene’s gifted voice has found a home on the Christian music charts, but the anorexic singer wants more.
After talking to Parker about the murder, she announces that a secular label may be making her a big offer. However, it would mean her new songs would have to be rewritten, leaving God out of the picture. Parker struggles with knowing God gave her the very words that have led to Serene’s fame, and believes it would be wrong to leave Him out. But Serene has a tempting offer for her songwriter friend. If Parker rewrites the tunes, she can perform Christian songs during Serene’s costume changes at the concerts. This would be a lot to think about under normal circumstances, but Parker is still reeling from the news of Brenna’s death.
Parker is the daughter of fallen musician Pete James, who once held a prominent spot as a guitarist on the Nashville scene. His passion for guitars led him to name his children after the instrument, but his stronger passion for alcohol led him away from his wife and career. When Parker decides to take Serene’s offer, she must put together a band on the spot and has no choice but to turn to her father to make that happen. Despite the alcoholism, he is still one of the best guitarists in Nashville, and ready and willing to be part of her band. With her brothers and Youth Minister Daniel Walker to fill in the other spots, Parker takes the plunge.
But Brenna’s murder permeates everything in Parker’s life. Pandora’s box opens wider with each truth brought to light, and Parker finds her life, faith and future in jeopardy as the investigation progresses. Dreams of fame and fortune mean less and less in the face of life-threatening and spiritual dangers.
This compelling story combines likable, believable characters facing realistic challenges in the aftermath of a horrific crime. The Nashville setting and music industry insights provide texture and an additional layer of interest. Readers will find themselves truly caring about the characters and speculating about the identity of the murderer and his or her motive.
--- Reviewed by Susan Miura
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