Monday, July 19, 2021

Dee Henderson books

I continue my meandering through various Christian fiction writers, and have quite enjoyed the discovery of Dee Henderson. Henderson combines honourable characters, the crime & mystery genre, romance, and Christian themes together to make an appealing mix.

Her O’Malley series has 8 books: 6 main ones and 2 prequels. The entire series covers only one or two years, and each focuses on a different sibling in the O’Malley family. In an appealing twist, the seven siblings are not related by blood, but decided to form their own family, legally changing their names after their formative adolescent years were spent together at an orphanage. All now in their thirties, they have been a unified team for 20 years.

All have a strong sense of law and order, honour, and service, which is shown in their character and choice of professions. This is a tight knit family of caring men and women who love each other and would do anything to support one another. Obviously, since all ended up in an orphanage, there is a considerable backstory for each.

The two prequels - which are definitely worth reading first are:
  • Danger in the Shadows - tells the story of FBI agent Dave Richman and his sister Sara. Sara is under constant witness protection due to an incident in her past. When she meets famous pro-footballer Adam Black everything is thrown up in the air. 
  • Jennifer - gives some background to Jennifer O’Malley, paediatrician, as she meets Tom. 

The 6 main books cover the remaining siblings:
  • The Negotiator - Kate is a hostage negotiator, who ends up in an incident with Dave Richman. 
  • The Guardian - Marcus, a US Marshall, is on duty when a federal judge is shot. 
  • The Truth Seeker - Lisa, a forensic pathologist, is searching for links among previous cold cases. 
  • The Protector - Jack is a firefighter, in the midst of an outbreak of targeted arson. 
  • The Healer - Rachel, a trauma psychologist, cares for children, and caught up in the midst of a school shooting. 
  • The Rescuer - Stephen, a paramedic, is taking a break from the hard work of being a first responder in a city, but gets caught up in an old stolen jewel investigation in a small town. 
The books all follow on from each other, and all the family members appear in each. In fact, they often work the same cases together and assist each other along the way.

None are believers, but in each book a special someone who is a Christian comes along their path who causes them to reconsider Jesus and what they believe. If I was cynical I would say there is a borderline ‘flirt to convert’ thing going on in every book. But it’s not quite like that. Each love interest of an O’Malley chooses not to get involved with them because they are not (yet) Christians. These are crime fighting romances though, so while the stressful situation is figured out and resolved, each main character is also being challenged to consider their beliefs, in due course comes to faith and then the romantic tension is resolved. Henderson tries to bring out a different aspect of faith, and potential objections to it, in each book. So, for example, one focuses on the truth of the resurrection, another on being in a personal relationship with God.

If I were to nit-pick, I’d suggest that recognising personal sin or a need for God’s grace isn’t a strong aspect of turning to God in any of them. These are all decent, impressive people who are already pretty ‘together’. However, they are pondering to the truths of God, they come to know him by reading his word, and they are willing to talk about their hesitations and concerns as they work through what it means to believe. Like Kingsbury’s romantic Christian fiction, she treads a fine line between the romance (hugging, kissing, expressed desire between people not in a relationship) with the balance of aiming for self-control and purity. However, the Christian message here is more subtle, gentle, and may be more appealing for inquirers.

I’ve enjoyed them and will happily try her other books as well.


I have now also read her "Uncommon Heroes" Military Romance series - and enjoyed them. 

True Devotion - about Kelly, SEAL widow and surf lifesaver, and good friend Joe, her past husband's close friend. 

True Valor - Grace is a Navy pilot and Bruce is Air Force Pararescue. This was my favourite, I liked how their relationship developed through letters over several deployments.

True Honor - CIA officer Dacy is chasing a man who profited from 9/11, and SEAL Sam is deployed in areas of strife as their paths keep crossing. 

Henderson writes strong, principled characters. The women are as capable, brave and heroic as the men. They aren't damsels in distress waiting for a man to save them, but true partners in work and life. From recollection, each of the main characters in these is already a Christian, so no 'flirt to convert' happening here!