Barbour Publishing, Inc
One woman’s troubled past is slowly resolved and one mansion’s mystery is slowly revealed in Another Stab at Life by Anita Higman. The book begins when Bailey Walker, a realtor, inherits a spooky mansion in the middle of Houston from her grandmother. Yet, she finds such strange “welcome to town” presents that she suspects someone is trying to scare her out of her new home. She is also surrounded by many eccentric neighbors, including a charming bachelor. As she learns to trust her neighbors, despite some bad experiences with relationships in the past, Bailey begins to start life afresh and solve the mysteries of her mansion.
The structure of the book is good. Higman’s casual style makes the story enjoyable and easy to read. The first person account (as told by Bailey) makes the book a little more personal. Mystery within mystery is created to make a complex book full of twists and turns. The plot becomes more and more suspenseful as the book nears its climax. Unfortunately, however, the climax is not as exhilarating a scene as the beginning seemed to promise. Also, the author does not tie all the strings together at the end, with many of the mysteries are left unsolved.
The characters of the book are somewhat believable. Bailey has her strengths and weaknesses, and it is easy to identify with her. But Max, the man she falls in love with (and consequently has a kiss-filled relationship with), seems like cardboard. The author describes him as “a good Christian man” but does not give any other character descriptions of him. He seems like a perfect person with no faults. The other supporting characters, too, seem either completely bad or utterly good; however, their quirky attitudes make them uniquely fascinating.
Despite its faults, the book has very good spiritual themes. The reader can easily see a stark difference between Bailey and her former, non-Christian friends. This illustrates what far-reaching effects Jesus (or Satan) can have in a person’s life. Another theme is best phrased in the Bible verse “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Bailey talks to God quite often throughout the book, heeding the advice of her grandma to “always talk to the One who created you.” Another idea in the book is to trust others. At the beginning of the story, Bailey is determined to steer through life “on her own raft,” adrift from society. Yet, as the book progresses, Bailey realizes the foolishness of that isolation and allows others to come into her life again.
Although the book has good spiritual themes, it does not tie its ending together and has a few unrealistic characters. I would recommend the book to someone who wants to enjoy a romantic mystery with spiritual ideas, but doesn’t mind whether the whole mystery is solved. -- Rachel Belth, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
She has nowhere to go, except the dilapidated mansion she's just inherited from her Granny Minna. Unfortunately, Bailey discovers the house has a history as shadowy as its hidden passages and finds the neighborhood overflowing with some rather quirky folks. Bailey suddenly feels like she's trapped inside the pages of a gothic novel - but with a comedic twist. In order to honor her grandmother's wishes and stay at Volstead Manor Bailey must unravel a string of mysteries and secrets, which all seem determined to stay happily ever buried.