Though the Darkness Hide Thee, by Susan Wise Bauer (Multnomah, 364 pp.; $11.99, paper). Reviewed by Annette LaPlaca, associate editor of MARRIAGE PARTNERSHIP.

Through the dark glasses of personal sin, it's hard to see God's glory in a fallen world, but we're looking all the same. That is the topic at the heart of every "Christian" story, because it is the condition of every Christian soul. In some stories, such as Flannery O'Connor's, these moments of epiphany rip through the narrative and leave the reader gasping over truth. In others, like Susan Wise Bauer's Though the Darkness Hide Thee, the search for God's face is portrayed with gentle authenticity.

Bauer-whose first novel, The Revolt, was published by Word in 1996-unfolds a fast-paced mystery that involves dark-and-dirty crimes, old and new. The story line of criminal secrets should satisfy even those readers most inured to subtlety in Christian fiction (which will come as a tonic to those numbed by Christian-market offerings that are more propaganda-with-a-plot than literature).

Unobtrusively echoing the whodunit plot line, the heart of Bauer's second novel is the search for God's character and his will on the part of the protagonist and her minister husband. Amanda and Thomas Clement are attempting a fresh start in the small Virginia town where she grew up-leaving behind the big city where they were bruised in ministry and disillusioned by the world of business. Bauer's portrait of their flawed but tender relationship is so winsome and rings so true, it's hard not to guess that she has drawn herself, heart and soul, into this narrative. And she has: The Bauers themselves recently moved back to family property in a rural Virginia community, where he ministers to a ...

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