Gathering Shadows
By Nancy Mehl
Published by Bethany House
316 Pages

Back Cover: Wynter Evans is a promising young reporter for a television station in St. Louis, but even a bright future doesn't take away her pain over the disappearance of her brother nine years ago. So when she stumbles across a photograph of a boy with an eerie resemblance to him, she can't pass up the chance to track him down. With research for work as her cover, she sets out with one of the station's photos for the place where the picture was taken: the town of Sanctuary.

Almost as soon as she arrives, she meets the town's handsome young mayor, Rueben King, and together they begin to uncover long held secrets that could tear the small town apart and change everything Wynter thought she knew about her life. As the truth of her family's past hides in the shadows, it's clear someone will stop at nothing to keep the answers she's searching for hidden forever--even if the cost is Wynter's very life.

REVIEW: Nancy pens an intriguing page turner that pleasantly surprised me. This is the first book I've read by this author it won’t be the last. I instantly cared for Wynter Evans, news reporter who is using a story to cover up the fact she’s trying to track down leads to her brothers’ kidnapper. She’d seen a picture taken in this lazy town called Sanctuary that looked like Ryan. Could it be?

Wynter’s boss says, “I want you to go to Sanctuary. Residents are mostly Mennonite. It seems to be inhabited by people looking for a simpler life…We could highlight one small town like this every week…go see what’s out there – get something on film then we’ll talk.”

The town was welcome at the idea of them letting others know about their town until Wynter and her assistant get there. Everyone was tight lipped all of a sudden. Wynter starts receiving threatening notes that tell her to leave town before she gets hurt.

Wynter won’t let these notes mess with her mission in finding her brother. “Ryan’s disappearance had been the catalyst that ended my parents’ marriage – and destroyed my family…I have to know the truth.” She told her assistant.

Wynter is cynical and will not stop until she gets answers. She didn't care what the town thought of her. It’s been several years since her brother was taken. She always believed he was alive. What a perfect place to hide a young boy in a place that had no T. V. and news from the outside world.

The Mayor, Reuben tells Wynter, “Some people are willing to protect their secrets at all costs…Sanctuary is like…stepping back into the past. We don’t have crime here. No bars or liquor store. No smutty book or video store. We don’t lock our doors. We believe in the old-fashioned values, and God is welcome everywhere. We don’t try to shut him out the way the world does…There are people here who value their anonymity. I don’t want to endanger them for no reason.”

This author uses the Mennonite town as a back drop to a pretty powerful, surprising page turner I quickly devoured. I didn't expect things to be such a nail biting suspenseful tale.  I hadn't a clue at how complex a story this would be. What a surprising plot twist! Yikes! I was so glad I had book two to read Deadly Echoes after I finished this one. I didn't want to leave the town of Sanctuary and its people just yet. I had to find out how they recovered from Wynter and the mystery she was chased down.

I enjoyed this author’s well timed humor and her lovable fun cast of characters that made this town so unique. One of my favorites was Esther. She was giving, compassionate, had a wonderful attitude toward living life for God with grace kindness and thoughtfulness. No matter what God has dished out she was faithful. She and a few others made me want to visit Sanctuary for a while. Thanks Nancy!

This is not your typical tension filled story it’s so much more. Inspirational themes naturally run throughout the story forgiveness, trust issues between characters in town and individually and with God. I highly recommend this as a great suspenseful read for fun and for Book Clubs. There is so much to talk about.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Netgalley sight. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog

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