Sophie Wittenbauer left her strict Mennonite hometown under a cloud of shame and regret. After a rough childhood, her teenage poor choices harmed others, leaving her with no choice but to change her life. Her entry-level writing job at a newspaper puts her in the right place at the right time to overhear office gossip about a prisoner who has information on a decades-old unsolved crime. While the other reporters write off the tip as the ravings of an angry criminal, Sophie can’t ignore it because she knows the name of this prisoner from her old life.
Upon learning from the man that one of the other suspects is hiding out in the Missouri town of Sanctuary, she takes on a false identity to investigate and meets the young pastor of a local church–the very man she’d loved as a troubled teenager. As she gets closer to finding the suspect, will the truth of her own past come out before she discovers the identity of the criminal–or the very person she’s seeking puts a fatal stop to her investigation?
I wasn’t hadn’t heard of Nancy Mehl before, so I wasn’t familiar with her writing before so when this book became available for review, I wasn’t sure what to expect. This particular book, Rising Darkness, is Nancy Mehl’s third book in the Finding Sanctuary series. Obviously since I haven’t heard of Ms. Mehl, so I haven’t read the first two books but in all honesty, I had no trouble following along in this book, so I’d say it’s definitely a “stand alone” book. I am betting though, that I missed some of the history of the town and of the people, which might have made this book have more depth to me.
The main character, Sophie Wittenbaur, is a young lady who grew up in a conservative and strict Mennonite family. Sophie left her small town of Kingdom both in shame and regret and to leave her painful and abusive past behind. Sophie educates herself and chases her dream job of becoming an investigative reporter. While she tries to make a name for herself as a reporter, Sophie unintentionally lands in the middle of a possible lead on a murderer who escaped with millions of dollars. The past that Sophie has worked so hard to leave behind ends up right in front of her again as she travels to the fictional Mennonite town of Sanctuary, Missouri. she takes herself “under cover” posing as Emily McClure while she searches for information in Sanctuary.
Sophie meets an old flame, Jonathon Wiese, who is now a pastor in Sanctuary. Jonathon soon discovers who Emily really is and begins helping Sophie discover the answer to this story she has been trying to crack. At the same time, Sophie begins to question her decision of turning away from God and blaming God for her childhood pain while Jonathon reminds her that God was carrying her at those times in her life. There are threats and dangers around every corner, and while Sophie doesn’t fully trust Jonathon she realizes that she must let him save her life.
Rising Darkness is clear in its message to readers that we can’t hold on to our past and that we need to turn things over to God and trust that He will lead us. As I stated above, I haven’t read the first two books in this series, but I’m thinking if they are as good as this one, I would recommend that you read them all. While I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Mehl before, I can now say that this book was fast paced and the characters were well developed. I loved the story line and you are definitely left guessing about what to expect next. I thought it was a great book and I would recommend it to other readers.
Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She is the author of twenty-one books, including the Road to Kingdom and Finding Sanctuary series. Nancy runs a HUD program for the city of Wichita and is president of a volunteer organization, Wichita Homebound Outreach. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Kansas Authors Club.
Thank you to Bethany House for the opportunity for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.