Posted in suspense on February 18, 2009

Author – Melanie Dobson
Publisher – Kregel Publications
May 2008

Sometimes life is about more than what you can see
4 out of 5 stars

‘The Black Cloister’ is Melanie Dobson’s third novel with her fourth due out in 2009. She is married and lives in Oregon with her family.

This novel is about one woman’s search to understand her past and why her mother conceivably abandoned her. Elise Friedman is that woman and when she put these questions to her adopted father, Steve, he refused to answer why her mother died, where she came from and what she left behind. Does Steve have good reason for not telling Elise the whole story or is he putting her in harm’s way?

Because Elise can’t learn the truth, she decides to seek it out in Germany where her mother was from before immigrating to America. She enlists the help of her mother’s friend, and US Ambassador, Addison Wade. They meet for lunch with Elise hoping to find out some answers but all she finds is more questions and no answers. Addison is afraid of what will happen should Elise continue on and pursue this line of questioning. But is she afraid for Elise or herself? What is this secret?

So Elise continues on in her quest for the truth and meets Carson, a seemingly nice guy that wants to help her especially since she speaks very little German. She manages to get herself in trouble – what book wouldn’t be complete without this occurrence? What is The Chosen that she has learned about from the various townspeople? Will the group give her the answers she seeks?

I wasn’t sure what to expect since it is labeled Christian Suspense. What I found was a very engaging story about a cult in Germany and how one woman escaped and 15 years later her daughter – that she saved from the cult as well – ends back up there to better understand her mother. I felt the frustration that Elise felt when she would run up against roadblocks and couldn’t get the answers she sought. I was mad at Elise for putting herself in situations that she had to know was bad and might not escape alive. But in the end, I was pleased with how the story ends and that while cults are not a good thing for anyone, it is possible to escape them. I was also glad to see Addison Wade realize that sometimes a job isn’t the most important thing in life, a lesson we could all take something from, that life doesn’t stop just because of what you think is important. That sometimes helping others gives you a better sense of accomplishment and is more fulfilling.

If you like suspense novels you will like this book, it will keep you on the edge of your seats wondering what will happen next and how the story will play itself out.

Reviewed for (2/09)