***** Terrifying Awakening Review by Rox Burkey
Author M.L. Hamilton grabs the reader from the first line. She masterfully weaves the love between Elaine and Roy and their decades long marriage as key to this mystery. Elaine’s loss of a promising student, Jenny, from a class 12-years before caused her to quit teaching. She retreated into a self-imposed prison of guilt with Roy her rock of support. Roy had been a detective with Chicago’s finest but lost his job in pursuit of solving the case of Jenny. He supports his wife working as a private detective. Their lifestyle is simple in suburbia with Elaine a gifted gardener.
Insight into the isolation Elaine’s created shows up early in this story told in first person. It compelled me to continue if only to learn why her attitude. I found out that was just the starting hook compelling me to finish a book I was barely able to put down.
Laruen called my name as I reached my front door. Now that the mommy committee dispersed, she hurried along the sidewalk waving an envelop in the air.
“I meant to run this over to you yesterday, but I didn’t get a chance. The mail carrier left it in our box by mistake. Might be junk, but I thought it looked like a real letter.” She handed me the envelope. I didn’t recognize the address, but I thanked her and pushed the door open.
“Oh, before you go—” Lauren held out her hand, then drew her finger to her mouth and nipped at her fingernail. “Didn’t you used to teach math?”
“Yes.” I transferred the letter to the same hand as the newspaper and tried to think how I might dodge the request that was sure to come.
“I wondered; would you be willing to tutor Emma? She really struggles with math, and I’m not very patient when it comes to helping her….”
The story section above, continues with Elaine’s excuse to avoid being responsible for a student—ever again. Over the subsequent breakfast with Roy, they share the newspaper when an article catches Elaine’s attention. The photo of the featured girl shows her wearing a necklace with a pendant Elaine believes was Jenny’s. It’s distinctive because Jenny’s father is an accomplished artisan.
Author Hamilton layers the story adding on the efforts Roy makes to try to solve the case. The tragedy that impacts Elaine bring her the realization that someone doesn’t want the case pursued. The suspense rises with each roadblock escalating at a breakneck speed. Elaine flees to Texas with the help of a police officer neighbor and friend with a daughter. Roy treated Anthony like a son and helped him when he lost his wife. He proves himself a valued friend.
This page-turning-mystery drove me to non-stop reading to find out the culprit and why. I enjoyed all the layers that built upon one another to a surprising end. The faith building added to Elaine in a way that opened her eyes. This was my first venture into the work of M.L. Hamilton, and I highly recommend the story and the author. Great for curling up over the holidays to laugh, cry, yell, and appreciate hope.
About the Author
Mary L. Hamilton writes in two fiction genres–middle grade and adult mystery/suspense, both from a Christian perspective. Her middle grade novels are set at a Christian youth camp, much like the camp where she grew up in southern Wisconsin. More recently, she has turned to writing adult suspense under the name M L Hamilton.
She has always enjoyed writing and recalls writing long letters to friends she’d met at camp and to a favorite cousin. She once wrote a mystery based on a friend’s birthday party, and often felt the need to chronicle her own experiences, such as a week-long canoe trip.
When she began writing for publication, Mary initially wrote inspirational articles and a few devotional pieces. She progressed a Christmas play titled, “Homespun Angel,” and then turned to writing novels.
Mary is a graduate of two Long Ridge Writers’ Group courses and her writing has won awards from ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers’ Conference, and Writers on the Storm.
When not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, spending time with her family, and a little amateur photography. You can see some of her work on Instagram where her handle is mlhamiltonauthor.
She and her husband make their home in Texas.