I’ve dubbed this week “The Week of Insanity.” Like “The Cliffs of Insanity.” But in the voice of that guy from The Princess Bride that says “The Pit of Despair.” There’s no despair (mostly) this week, it’s just the voice. Somehow, I failed at planning, and so I have four events, four nights in a row, and some other deadlines sprinkled in, and a busy week at my job. There’s nothing to distract you from getting overwhelmed like reading about murder, mayhem, and mind games.
This post was originally shared on the Real World Bible Study Blog
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So in the midst of all the crazy, I took a breather and finished Here we Come, and then I read Mind Games.
And you guys, I think I may have found a new favorite author.
I know. It’s like favorite kids. We can’t have them. And I wouldn’t go so far as to say she’s the favoritist ever…but rather that she’s joined the league of cape-wearing, pen-wielding mighty warrior superheroes that keep me sane. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, read a good book. Be careful…don’t check out on your to-do list forever. But a good book will give you some distraction and some perspective. My overwhelm just doesn’t seem that bad in comparison with Aggie from Here we Come with her 8 inherited kids, a fiance, a wedding, homeschooling, and a house to manage. And while deadlines may be chasing me, murderers aren’t killing innocent people to play mind games with me, and the problems I have to solve today usually aren’t life or death. Usually.
I’m not going to write about Here we Come today. You’ll just have to read it. But here are 6 things I loved about Mind Games. I would definitely recommend this book to readers who enjoy suspense, even if they aren’t looking for Christian fiction. Here’s why:
#1 Mind Games = suspense + faith, but it’s not overbearing.
There is definitely a faith element to Mind Games, but it’s not too heavy. It felt authentic, but more than that, it was light enough that non-Christian readers would still really enjoy this book. I love very “Christian” novels too, but a non-Christian reader isn’t likely to pick them up and read them, and isn’t likely to keep reading them if they get started. Part of the power of story is giving us opportunities to grow, build relationships, discuss things with folks that might think differently than us, and for that to happen, we need to have stories that can be a bridge: authentically Christian but not written in a way that will make the not-yet-Christian feel like an outsider.
#2 Mind Games played mind games with me.
Yup. I didn’t figure out whodunit. I suspected, but I moved on to someone else. And there were some twists in there that I totally didn’t expect. Whaaaat? I was blindsided. It made sense. It was internally consistent. I just didn’t see it coming.
#3 Mind Games called out our very real need for friends.
But it also exposed some of the things that make it so hard for some of us to build close relationships. I really struggle in this area…in fact, many of us in leadership do. There often isn’t a safe space to process daily life, and it’s really easy for us to end up isolated and vulnerable, or not knowing how to trust people. I love how Nancy Mehl didn’t actually solve this problem for Kaely in Mind Games…because while it is something that can be solved, it isn’t something that can be solved in the course of a few weeks. It will take time, and I’m going to enjoy going on this journey with Kaely.
#4 Mind Games exposed some of the brokenness of our world.
Broken people break people, and hurt people hurt people. That’s this story. But that’s our real world, too. And just like God was present through Kaely’s story, and entered into her time of need, so he also desires to be present with us in our stories.
#5 Mind Games was really well researched.
I know what fakey law enforcement stories are like. I’ve read so many of them. Authors that try hard, but don’t quite pull it off. I enjoyed this story for how realistic the law enforcement interactions were, and I especially enjoyed reading Miss Mehl’s guest post (see below) where she talked about how many times she had to rewrite it with the help of a retired FBI behavioral analyst who poked holes in all the things she had gotten wrong. There is a value to a story that is just written, of course, and to the ones that require us to suspend more of our disbelief, but I really respect the research and feedback that makes for just a great story.
#6 Mind Games has a sequel.
Oh man. I’m so excited. Can’t wait. Miss Mehl left us with a cliffhanger…not with regards to whodunit, but in terms of the new friendships in the story and even in terms of the faith journies. Fortunately, this is book 1 in a series, and book 2 is already available for presale on Amazon. (Anyone want to order it for me for Christmas?). Only problem…I hate when the sequel isn’t actually out yet. But I love that the author didn’t tie up all the loose ends…on purpose. She left some of them intentionally. One loose end from the crime did bother me…but it bothered the characters too so I think it was supposed to be bothersome.
Mind Games is on tour with Celebrate Lit!
Book: Mind Games
Author: Nancy Mehl
Release Date: December 2018
Publisher: Bethany House
FBI Behavioral Analyst Kaely Quinn’s methods may be highly unorthodox, but her talent is undeniable. She’s done her best to establish a new life for herself after being demoted and transferred to St. Louis when a reporter revealed she’s the daughter of an infamous serial killer. But when that same reporter claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely’s, it seems her old life has followed her.
When a body is found that fits the poem’s morbid predictions, Kaely and her new partner, Special Agent Noah Hunter, are forced to move past his skepticism of her approach and work together to unravel the deadly riddle.
With a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else, including Kaely, is killed.
Click here to purchase your copy!
Nancy Mehl (www.nancymehl.com) is the author of more than thirty books, including the Road to Kingdom, Finding Sanctuary, and Defenders of Justice series. She received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award in 2009. She has a background in social work and is a member of ACFW and RWA. She writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.
Guest Post from Nancy
Writing Mind Games is a dream come true. I’ve been interested in FBI profiling for years. I’ve read about it, studied it, and watched every TV special I could find on the subject. So when the chance finally came to write the book I’ve always wanted to write, I jumped at it. Thankfully, through the help of another writer, I was hooked up with a retired FBI profiler. I was so excited. Until I found out I had almost everything wrong. Yes, I had some understanding about profiling, but I knew nothing about the FBI and how it works.
First of all, the FBI doesn’t call the men and women who profile criminals, profilers. They’re called Behavioral Analysts. The plot for Mind Games had my analyst running around the country solving crimes while she was stationed in St. Louis. Uh, no. Behavioral analysts do travel, but they all work out of Quantico in Virginia. So…I rewrote.
There were ways around my conundrum, but one solution led to more and more problems. We finally worked through them. Then I spent the next few months learning acronyms. CIRG, CJIS, NCAVC, HRT, UNSUB, CNU, THU, ViCap, CODIS, SWAT, ERTU, OPU, THRU, ERT… Well, the list goes on and on. The FBI is made up of many specialized units. And a plethora of acronyms, it seems.
I rewrote Mind Games three times before my source said we were good to go.
If you assume I’m out of the woods now, you’d be wrong. I haven’t had the nerve to open up the manuscript I sent her for book two in my Kaely Quinn Profiler series. I figured I had Fire Storm right but… Well, I can tell from her email comments I’ll be doing more rewriting. Sigh.
So is it worth it? A resounding yes! I love learning, and as long as my analyst friend hangs in with me (she has the patience of Job), I’ll keep at it.
I hope you enjoy Mind Games. It’s edgy but fun. Kaely Quinn is a quirky character. She was thrown out of Quantico because her version of profiling is… Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out!
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