Tag Archives: Paul McCusker

Top 10 Tuesday — Best Mystery/Suspense Novels of 2017

12 Dec

I was snowed-in over the weekend! Really? In Georgia!? Yes! What started as a weekend getaway to our mountain cabin turned into a struggle for survival. The light-dusting forecast became a 10-inch snow dump accompanied by a power outage. If not for the intrepid Domino’s driver who delivered to the end of our road and our uber-prepared neighbors who generously supplied our flushing needs, I don’t know what we would have done! Seriously, my husband is a prepper wannabe so we were sitting pretty (except for the above mentioned toilet issue). My contribution to preparation? A big pot of homemade soup and a fully-loaded and charged Kindle. Priorities, you know. I read two really great mystery/suspense novels, my genre of choice. Focusing on the life threatening adventures of the characters keeps the mind off the dwindling supply of oreos. 😉

The theme of this week’s Top 10 is Best of 2017. So here are the mystery/suspense books that I read this year that should always be in stock during a weather emergency. All are part of a series, so that takes care of the many hours of waiting for the power trucks to appear.

To find our what other books bloggers found exceptional this year, head over to The Broke And The Bookish.

Top Mystery/Suspense of 2017

Always Watching by Lynette Eason

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

The Cover Story by Deb Richardson-Moore

Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

Death in The Shadows by Paul McCusker

Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering

Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert

If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

Moving Target by Lynette Eason

Still Life by Dani Pettrey

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris


What book makes your must-have list?


Top 10 Tuesday: Books for Lovers of British Mysteries (+ A Canadian Cousin)

15 Aug

Top 10 Tuesday is back! Yay! The folks at The Broke And The Bookish had some well-deserved time off, but now they are back with great topics for book lovers. This week I’m talking about book recommendations for lovers of British mysteries. I love a good mystery and have found the following books to meet all the requirements — puzzling cases set in the British Isles. They run the gamut from historical and contemporary, amateur detectives and police procedurals, to urban and bucolic settings. Ironically, a couple of the series, while definitely having a British vibe, are authored by Americans. All are excellent!

Top Book Recommendations for Lovers of British Mysteries

+ A Canadian Cousin

(please note there may be more books in these series than are pictured)

The Aiden Mysteries by Fay Sampson


The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow


The Drew Farthering Mysteries by Julianna Deering


The Faith Morgan Mysteries by Martha Ockley


A Father Gilbert Mystery by Paul McCusker


The Monastery Murders by Donna Fletcher Crow


A Mystery for D. I. Costello by Elizabeth Flynn


Poppy Denby Investigates by Fiona Veitch Smith


A Canadian Cousin!

The Herringford And Watts Mysteries by Rachel McMillan


What are some of your favorite mysteries?


Book Review: Death in The Shadows

6 Jan

41ykxx2ymbl-_sx324_bo1204203200_When Father Gilbert traded in his detective’s badge for an Anglican priest’s collar, he never expected that murder would follow him. Even a church conference in the quant seaside town of Englesea offers no escape.

The vision of a dead woman, water dripping from her body, draws Gilbert into a mystery that seems straightforward, but soon entangles him in a power struggle between corrupt players who want to dominate the illegal sex trade in town. The victims are pawns in a game that extends to London and across international borders.

The dead cry for justice and Father Gilbert fights against forces hiding in the shadows. Can he champion the truth in time to stop more people from dying?


973492_origPaul McCusker was born in 1958 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, but spent his formative years outside of Washington DC in Bowie, Maryland. He was given his first typewriter early in his childhood and hasn’t stopped writing since. Although he received a college degree in journalism, Paul’s first love was writing sketches and plays for Grace Baptist Church. From those efforts came his published drama collections for the prestigious Baker’s Plays, and the Lillenas Publishing Co., Contemporary Drama Services, Group Books and Monarch/Gazelle Books in England.

In 1985 he moved to California where he worked with Continental Ministries and wrote plays for the nationally-renowned drama group The Jeremiah People. This led to his work as a freelance writer for the Focus on the Family radio drama called Family Portraits, which later became Adventures in Odyssey. Since joining the Focus staff as a writer in 1988, Paul has written over 300 half-hour episodes for Odyssey and has also written 22 tie-in novels. Paul is now Creative Director at FOF, which means he thinks up stuff and then writes it.

In addition to Adventures In Odyssey, Paul helped to create Focus On The Family Radio Theatre, writing and directing many of its productions. Milestones include the Peabody Award-winning Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom, all seven books in CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series, the acclaimed Father Gilbert Mysteries, the Audie-winning Life of Jesus, and The Screwtape Letters. Dickens’ Oliver Twist is his latest adaptation.

His novels include Epiphany (nominated for a ECPA Gold Medallion Award) for Zondervan Books, and You Say Tomato with best-selling British writer Adrian Plass. He has authored the popular Zondervan novel The Mill House, and its sequel A Season of Shadows. Paul recently penned a pair of medical thrillers, TSI: The Gabon Virus and The Influenza Bomb, with Dr. Walt Larimore.

His non-fiction includes Playwriting: A Study In Choices & Challenges and The Ultimate Youth Drama Book.

More recently, his connections with the writings of CS Lewis have strengthened, with the release of The Annotated Screwtape Letters and the new RT drama, CS Lewis at War. A companion book to that drama will come out next year.

Paul and his wife Elizabeth live in Colorado Springs with their two children.

My Impressions:

For fans of pure mystery, Paul McCusker’s latest Father Gilbert novel is a very satisfying read. I loved the British flavor, the complex characters and the thought-provoking themes that define Death in The Shadows. Father Gilbert is attending an ecumenical conference at a seaside resort town when he again is confronted with evil. Murder is the crime to be solved, but there is also the degrading and dehumanizing sin of human trafficking that is confronted. This novel struck a personal note with me. My daughter is employed by a non-profit that works to free women from the prison of sex trafficking. Death in The Shadows explores the very dark and ugly side of what many term victimless activity — timely subject matter.

Setting plays a big role in Death in The Shadows, with this novel having a very atmospheric feel to it. Father Gilbert is an intriguing character with a past that informs his present — he is former police detective who is now a Church of England priest. As in a previous novel featuring Father Gilbert, the supernatural is again a part of the story, which I found very apt. At one point Father Gilbert ponders the many realities that people confront, and the supernatural reality is one many dismiss or deny, yet is very real. The mystery unfolds slowly, yet this book is not one to be put down easily. You’ll want to keep turning those pages into the wee hours of the night.

A book to keep you puzzling and pondering along with Father Gilbert, Death in The Shadows is one I can recommend.


Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


Top 10 Tuesday — Five-Star Reads

29 Mar

Thanks to the folks over at The Broke And The Bookish for hosting Top 10 Tuesday every week. There are lots of book bloggers that participate, so make sure to click HERE to find out what they are up to.


This week’s theme is 10 of My Most Recent 5-Star Reads. I have been inundated with reading blessings this year and have enjoyed lots and lots of great books. The following are the last 5-star books I have read. Make sure to check out the reviews I have linked.

Top 10 5-Star Reads

(In Alphabetical Order)

Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa (suspense)

The Body under The Bridge by Paul McCusker (mystery)

The Fragment by Davis Bunn (historical suspense)


Guarded by Angela Correll (women’s fiction)

The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer (contemporary romance)

A House Divided by Robert Whitlow (legal drama)

If I Run by Terri Blackstock (suspense)


The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide (historical romance)

The Prophetess by Jill Eileen Smith (biblical fiction)

Thin Ice by Irene Hannon (romantic suspense)



Book Review: The Body Under The Bridge

19 Feb

UnknownA former Scotland Yard detective, Father Gilbert knows about death. But, now a priest of a modest Anglican church in the small town of Stonebridge, he didn’t expect it to show up like this–in the suicide of a man who threw himself off the church tower, and in the discovery of a two-hundred-year-old body beneath an ancient bridge.

The deaths are linked. The mummified corpse under the bridge, a murder victim, reignites a centuries-old battle between two local families–the Todds and the aristocratic Hayshams. Then both David Todd and Lord Haysham begin to act strangely. They are fearful for reasons they won’t explain.

When Lord Haysham is murdered, David Todd is the prime suspect. But Todd is maniacal, claiming great forces of evil are at work. An entire history of violence and depravity begins to emerge, interweaving the history of several local families with a secret occult society that engages in Black Masses. Has the Society emerged again?

61XOkpwGGiL._UX250_Paul McCusker is the Peabody Award-winning writer and director of the audio drama Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom, along with the multiple award-winning audio dramatizations of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, A Christmas Carol, his original series The Luke Reports: The Life of Jesus (honored as Best Audio Drama by the prestigious Audie Awards) and The Father Gilbert Mysteries (also an Audie Award nominee), all for Focus On The Family Radio Theatre.

Apart from dramatizations of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia and Screwtape, he also scripted the original audio drama C.S. Lewis At War and written the companion book C.S. Lewis & Mere Christianity: The Crisis That Created A Classic. His work has extended to writing the detailed footnotes for The Annotated Screwtape Letters for HarperOne. (It is the first authorized annotated edition of any book by C.S. Lewis.)

McCusker is also a writer and director for the long-running children’s audio program Adventures in Odyssey, scripting over 250 episodes as well as 2 of the animated video series, authoring 18 spin-off novels, and serving as the general editor for The Imagination Station chapter books. For adults, he has written the Gold Medallion-nominated Epiphany, The Mill House and, with Dr. Walt Larimore, The Gabon Virus and The Influenza Bomb. His plays and musicals have been performed in churches and community theaters across the country. One, A Time for Christmas, was a Dove Award nominee. His lyrics have been put to music by the Grammy Award-winning Michael W. Smith.


My Impressions:

After a successful run in Focus on The Family Radio Theater, Paul McCusker is bringing his Scotland Yard detective turned Anglican priest to readers. The first book in the Father Gilbert Mystery series, The Body under The Bridge, is a treat for fans of mysteries. It has a very British setting, a puzzling mystery and a main character who struggles with issues of faith and the nature of good and evil. I rate this book a 5-star read! I loved it!

Father Gilbert has returned to St. Mark’s after a sabbatical of resting and regrouping. This late in life cleric is rather unconventional — a former detective with a traditional liturgical bent, he also has had first hand experience with evil. When a series of events, both physical and spiritual, draw him into a police investigation, his world is once again knocked off kilter. Unseen dangers await him as he searches for truth.

The Body under The Bridge is first and foremost a mystery. There are multiple suspects and motives involved. The present gets tangled up in curses and feuds from centuries past. This one is a puzzler that will engage all of your deductive powers. Very British, its subject matter is supported by the many spooky houses, cemeteries and crypts that serve as the book’s settings. McCusker’s main character, Father Gilbert, is very complex. His former life influences how he leads and interacts with his church and others in the community. Although tuned into the unseen battles of good and evil, he is often caught off guard — a subtle, but important point made to be fully armed with God’s truth. Father Gilbert has a number of visions that are mostly met with skepticism by the police, his curate, Father Benson, and his bishop. I found the disbelief expressed by the police natural. It was the dismissal by the church that spoke to me. How many times do we discount true spiritual encounters as mere coincidence or bad timing. We speak of evil in the world without really taking it seriously. I underlined a number of passages in the book, but here’s one that made a big impression:

Father Gilbert didn’t believe that the seemingly random convergence of mundane events often labelled by people as “coincidence” was random at all. The world was a vast tangle of interwoven webs and intricate patterns of cause and effect that, at its core, reflected a spiritual reality. We, as humans, were constantly being nudged towards a heavenly or a diabolical realm. Nothing was random. Even the mundane was filled with significance. (page 86)

Father Gilbert knows evil, but believes and trusts in God. A man who daily wrestles with his faith, he, nevertheless, continues to lean on God in the midst of weakness.

As I said in the beginning, The Body under The Bridge is a 5-star read. Its plot, setting, and characterization are great, but the presentation of the reality of the battle waged by evil is truly excellent. This is one I would recommend to anyone. The book wrapped up the mystery, but more from Father Gilbert is promised — I can’t wait!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Great for book clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)