In Ellery Adams and Elizabeth Lockard’s The Fate of the Fallen, the fifth and final book in the Hope Street Church Mystery series, the Sunshine Bible Study Class faces its greatest challenge yet. The group decides to spend the day together at a park festival, where Cooper and her fiance, Nathan, run into Nathan’s younger sister, Christine, having a team-building exercise with her work. Just as Cooper and Nathan manage to get away for a walk just by themselves, they come across a frantic Christine, bloody from the discovery of her boss, who has apparently committed suicide. However, when the police rule the death a homicide, they arrest Christine, giving the Sunshine Bible Study Class its greatest urgency yet to find the truth through one of their investigations. In addition, they look after a homeless former Marine who was deliberately hit with a car and left to die when he tried to stop the driver from stealing Cooper’s new camera from her car.
At the same time that Cooper must support Nathan and his increasing panic over the arrest and arraignment of his sister, her boss and the company secretary go on a business trip for two weeks, leaving Cooper as acting boss of the company. The subsequent serious illness of three of the six remaining employees creates intense pressure on Cooper to hold the company together while also trying to hold Nathan and their relationship together.
The Hope Street Church Mystery books were some of Ellery Adams’s earliest writing that she has recently rewritten, but this book was published in 2016 and has more recent touches, including the use of modern technology. It also shows off Adams’s gift for blending genres. Though the book is labeled a mystery, it contains many elements of romance, life drama, family dynamics, and Christian lessons, both taught and applied through the course of the novel.
The characters come across as real people, Christians who try to live good lives but are not perfect either. The roundness of the characters contributes to the strength of the plot, which contains some creative twists. We can all imagine the terror of seeing our little sister arrested for a murder she didn’t commit or the helplessness of seeing our fiance beat himself up for his inability to find the proof of his sister’s innocence.
The Fate of the Fallen centers its story around the message of Ecclesiastes 3: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Using the lessons the Bible study group learns about the proper timing of everything in life, the book shows how each lifetime will have its ups and downs and its own progression.
The audio version of this book is narrated by Cris Dukeheart, and she does a commendable job as usual. Though I am not an expert on the different accents of the American South, Virginia in particular in this case, I do recognize that she gives a difference in her accents depending upon how far south the character is from.
Though I have not read the book in its non-audio format, I understand from reviews on Amazon that it contains recipes for the various delectable-sounding desserts made by Cooper’s mother.
I loved the great character development, especially seeing the growth in the characters over the course of the series. For example, Cooper goes from being a young woman who can’t live without her boyfriend to learning to be a strong woman for herself while still having a man by her side, while her sister develops from a spoiled brat to a caring sister and good mother. I also appreciated the wholesome, healthy portrayal of Christians as neither saints nor spiritual snobs. With all this, plus the strong plot, The Fate of the Fallen highly deserves its five stars!
Fate of the Fallen is available now. To order from Amazon, click here. You may also find it in your local bookstore or library.