Thursday, February 6, 2014

Snapshot by Lis Weihl (Book Review)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from BookSneeze for a review. All opinions are my own. 

A man has been in prison for 50 years for a crime he didn't commit. Who is Benjamin Gray's killer, and can Lisa Waldren and her father find out in time to save the accused man before his execution date? And can an old snapshot of two little girls, one black and one white, hold the answers? What does a locked cabinet and missing key have to do with it all, if anything?

Based partly on real people and actual events, Snapshot takes us back to the Civil Rights Movement and the underhanded, violent politics and tactics of that era. Lisa Waldren, the white girl in the photo, is now a federal prosecutor and has a complicated relationship with her father, a retired FBI agent and the man who took the photo all those years ago. She reluctantly agrees to help him find the real shooter and is immediately drawn into a web of danger, deciet, and coverups. Lisa's deep hurt over her father's apparent lack of concern and her struggle with reconciling with him is pretty close to home for me, and i'm sure, for many readers. As the story unfolds and motives and reasonings are described from the perspectives of both father and daughter everything begins to slowly come into focus.

The atrocities of that tumultuous time in our nation's not-so-distant past are brought into focus with painful clarity. Racism might not be as openly prevalent now, but we all know it's still here. It pains me to hear snide remarks and jokes made against people of another race, especially if those who make those comments call themselves Christians. Speaking of this, I would highly recommend that everyone listen to or read Ken Ham's book/message on "One Race". It revolutionized my thinking and opened my eyes to something I had never realized before. But I digress...

The book, though not as fast-paced as I thought it might be, has plenty of tense moments. Lis Wiehl's ability to be so "real" in her descriptions of every character and event make this story even more compelling. I found myself feeling deeply sympathetic of the accused shooter and his family and amazed at the subtle ways in which the author pulled on my heartstrings in this book.  Knowing that it was based on true events made everything more "real", of course, and made me want to do more research on that time in our history. 

In the back of the book there are some extras that I found informative and very interesting such as a note from the author (the real girl in the photo) providing insight into how and why the novel was written, an interview with her real-life, retired agent father, and essays by Juan Williams and Bill O'Reilly (a character in the book is patterned after him) as well as a Reading Group Guide.

One of the things I appreciated most about this book is that Lis Wiehl wrote an excellent mystery with completely believable characters and situations, a great plot, and plenty of action and she didn't find it necessary to use one cuss word, nor did she include anything vulgar, as so many mystery/thriller writers feel compelled to do. 

If you enjoy historical fiction with plenty of suspense and a dash of humor, give this book a read. I highly recommend it. 

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