Alton Gansky,
The Incumbent
(Zondervan, 2004)

Maddy Glenn enjoys being mayor of Santa Rita, California, and is proud of the job she is doing. But then one of her former campaign workers disappears, and Maddy's card is found at the scene -- complete with very strategically placed drops of blood. When another of her friends disappears and another card is found, Maddy suddenly has to wonder if she might be the target.

The Incumbent is the first book in the Maddy Glenn Series, a mystery with just a hint of romance novel about it, given the two very different men that Maddy finds herself interested in. Whodunnit is not obvious unless you're paying very, very close attention -- and even then, you might be fooled by the red herring.

According to the author's website, one of his aims is "to create an environment for stimulated thinking about spiritual matters." I don't believe that he has succeeded with The Incumbent, however. In a minor thread running through the story, Maddy is dealing with her grief at the death of her husband some years ago. Eventually, she begins to feel the stirrings of her own religious faith. However, the scenes dealing with this matter don't seem to fit the story -- they certainly don't advance the plot at all. They feel more as though they were grafted into the story after the mystery itself was written and solved, and it's not a good fit.

That complaint aside, The Incumbent is still an entertaining novel, and I will be watching for the next books in the series.

by Laurie Thayer
17 September 2005

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