Sara Mills cleverly matches up suspense, romance, and Christian themes in her book Miss Match, as her characters struggle to find a way out of Berlin in the 1940’s. It is the era of World War II, and Private Investigator Allie Fortune must help her friend, Jack, find a way in and out of Berlin to save a past acquaintance of his, Maggie, and her adopted child, Greta.
As Allie and Jack leave behind everything familiar to them, including their jobs, they must put their trust in God, asking His help in saving the woman Jack once loved and still loves. Once they reach Berlin, they discover that authorities are looking for Maggie and her child everywhere; the two are wanted for murder. Meanwhile, Allie has a few things of her own to discover. Her bothersome mother – who for the past several years has tried to match Allie with various men in hopes of her marrying – has hired Allie to return a valuable item to a mysterious man in Berlin. Matching also has a lot to do with this suspenseful story, as Allie slowly helps Jack reestablish his relationship with Maggie and as Allie struggles with her love for the man she hasn’t seen in years, David. Just when she has the courage to let go of her search for David, an unexpected twist brings him back into her life.
Christians will relate to Mills’ characters. Allie, Maggie, and Jack all refer to God in times of trouble (“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7). Readers never gain a full sense of Jack’s Christian beliefs, since Mills never tells the story from his point of view, but his actions reflect the Christian worldview as he gives up everything for the people he loves. Specific Christian references do not appear until about a third of the way into the book, but once they do appear it becomes clear that Allie and Maggie are two Christians searching for meaning in their lives.
Mills affectively describes the desperate situation of Berlin, furthering both Allie and Maggie’s need for trusting in God’s plan. The people in Berlin are so deprived that they can’t imagine life without hunger. Chocolate bars are black market items that Allie and Jack use to barter for information. Maggie hides with Greta in a closed off room in “an apartment building very much like the ones she’d warned us to stay away from for fear of being caught under a collapse” (p. 105). Allie describes the room, referring to its “suffocating darkness” (p. 131). Rubble is everywhere in the streets, and Maggie warns her friends to stay away from certain buildings, “a whisper away from falling down entirely” (p. 159), that may collapse and kill anyone nearby. Maggie tells Allie and Jack that Greta has seen her share of dead bodies. Among this “city made up entirely of shades of grey” (p. 211), Mills’ characters constantly pray, looking to God for help. In order to get out of Berlin alive, they will have to ask, seek, and find. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
Readers find the heart of the story in Maggie’s search for a God-given purpose. Almost every time the story is told from her eyes, the reader learns something new about Maggie’s difficult past. As she faces her past, she must learn to accept God’s forgiveness and to trust in His will. She looks back to the time she spent as an army nurse as proof of God’s protection and recalls a meeting with a stranger who changed her life forever. “God, forgiveness, and hope is what we’re all looking for,” the stranger tells her.
Every single one of us. We wander around like blind men in a small room, bumping into people, bouncing off each other, trying to find those pieces that fit inside the deepest parts of us, the parts that cry out for something more, something eternal, something that matters. And we’re all disappointed, because people can’t fill those parts, they’re not made to. Only God can. He fills it with His love and with His forgiveness. And in those quiet moments when you can almost grasp it, almost understand what your own soul is crying out for, it’s in those moments that God is calling out to you.” (p. 250)
Maggie’s past and the various plot twists provide for a suspenseful mystery. The second of what will hopefully be many more books to come, Miss Match treats the readers to a pairing of beautiful imagery and plot. Mills makes it easy for readers to pick up what they missed in the first book (Miss Fortune). Throughout the book, she switches between first person from Allie’s point of view and third person describing Maggie’s point of view, allowing readers to experience the horror of Berlin from both the newcomer’s and the resident’s points of view. Mills’ use of narration attaches readers to the characters, leaving an impression on their minds. When Allie’s character narrates, the story is told in the familiar private-eye style, making the novel a comfortable read, especially for those who are already fans of the mystery/suspense genre. No matter what genre readers enjoy most, they will find something they like in Miss Match. Mills is a wonderful storyteller, and as she brings her to novel to a cliff-hanger closing, she leaves readers begging for the next book in the series. – Harmony Wheeler, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
FBI agent Jack O’Connor receives a letter from Maggie, a woman he used to love, saying she’s in trouble in Berlin. The FBI refuses to get involved, so Jack asks Allie Fortune to help him investigate. Allie and Jack pose as a missionary couple who want to bring orphans back to the United States.
A child finds important documents that everyone in the city — Soviets and allies alike — want for themselves. Maggie refuses to tell Jack what the documents are, saying if things go wrong, they are better off not knowing.
Through the course of the search, Allie’s past is brought back to her, half a world away from home.