Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Book Review – Peril (And A TREAT!)


I spent the most delightful weekend with my girls, chilling and reading a book that I’d wanted to read for some time. Peril, by Suzanne Hartmann had a delicious mystery mixed with suspense, and a setting that I drool over: NASCAR races!

From the back cover:

Lady Anne, a top operative of the OJL, the American government’s most clandestine intelligence organization, is paid to be paranoid, and she’s good at her job. So good, in fact, that she singlehandedly stops an assassination attempt at the White House. When newspapers splash her photo over the front page for saving King Ahmad—a Muslim recently converted to the Christian faith—not only is her cover in jeopardy, but the secrets of her enhanced strength and the entire agency. Then she’s given another assignment—to escort King Ahmad to a NASCAR track….


Stuart Jackson, age 33 and at the peak of his career as the reigning Cup Champion of NASCAR, has everything anyone could want—fame, fortune, success. But after he’s nearly blown up by a bomb at the White House, his achievements lose their allure. Nor can he forget the mysterious Lady Anne.

Suzanne’s blog has a tag-line of Fiction with a Twist. She mentions that most of her writing has unexpected twists in it. That’s certainly the case with Peril. A NASCAR champion, a beautiful operative, a King in need of protection: just the elements of a juicy suspense. But Peril surprised me. The characters, beneath the surface, show amazing depth and encounter the same type of life-altering situations that normal people deal with.

I found the theme of fear ironic for a story where the main character acts as a body guard. I know better than to assume anything with the excellence in Christian Fiction that we have today. Yet I still bought into Suzanne Hartmann’s lure into shallow waters. On the face of it, Lady Anne appeared amazing, complete, having it all together. Yet within, she shook with worry, discussed things with the Lord, and insisted on her own control.

Massive failure set-up, huh?

The sort-of hero, stock car champion Stuart Jackson, also offered an ingenious irony: the emptiness of a Lord-less life. Money, popularity, power, physical pleasure, none of it is enough to satisfy the man and fill the hole he feels in his life. He believes the beauty of Lady Anne will take care of everything, but it’s really the peace she has that he craves.

One of the best quotes in the book comes near the end and sums up the journeys of both Lady Anne and Stuart Jackson. Stuart remembers this as an old saying that he never quite comprehended before. When you begin to understand how little you understand, you’re beginning to get an understanding. Understand? Ha! Quintessential twisting!

I thoroughly enjoyed Peril. It proved exactly the type of read I needed for my weekend trip with my girls! If you enjoy twisted suspense, like NASCAR, (loved all of the references!) or are looking for a tightly-written, satisfying read, Peril should delight you as well!

And as for the TREAT! Here is the first page of the sequel to Peril!



          Joanne Van der Haas’ spirits sank as low as the elevator she rode into the depths of the Bio-Logic building. She closed her eyes and sagged against a wall. Lady Anne was gone, and her secrets with her. Why did the Senate need to revive the issue? Didn’t they understand the risks?

            The spirit of Lady Anne seemed to swirl through the small space, stirring up confusion. Painful memories coiled around Joanne until her breaths came in short gasps. They followed her off the elevator and through the maze of discarded desks, chairs, and office machinery, to the far side of the large storage room.

            Her motions on automatic, she pressed a faux knot in the paneling, then leaned into the soft glow of the newly-installed retina scanner it exposed.

            Surrounded by the whirling memories of the mystery woman, she wouldn’t have been surprised if it registered her as Lady Anne instead of Joanne. But the light snapped off, the panel closed, and a hidden door opened to her left.

            Her feet carried her into the Office of Joint Liaisons one slow step at a time until she stopped before the opened door to director’s office. Normally it would have been a welcome sight—the beginning of an exciting assignment, an opportunity to use her enhanced abilities—but today it only served as a reminder of the fact that she couldn’t escape her duty.

            The reality of the situation seemed to still the whirlwind of a spirit. It settled on Joanne’s shoulders like the burden it was, and its weight sunk into her body. Like it or not, she had to relive the memories—and possibly face the danger again.

(Adapted from her biography) Suzanne Hartmann is the author Fast Track Thrillers, with book #1, PERIL, available from OAK TARA. She has also written WRITE THIS WAY: TAKE YOUR WRITING TO A NEW LEVEL, a blueprint for writing a novel for the novice and a revising resource for the veteran author. She is wife to a wonderful husband, a homeschool mom, and a consulting editor for PORT YONDER PRESS. She and her family reside in the ST. LOUIS metro-east area. Suzanne operates FICTION WITH A TWIST (website) and WRITE THIS WAY (blog) to offer resources on the craft of writing, as well as a critique service, to help authors improve their writing and take it to a new level.

Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a recently "graduated" homeschooling mom whose twin girls have blessed her by sticking around the nest for a little longer. She spends her days directing the children’s music program at her church and working with the authors of Write Integrity Press to put out the best possible version of their books. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

5 thoughts on “Book Review – Peril (And A TREAT!)

  1. Thank you so much for the awesome review, Marji!


  2. Thank you, Jackie!


  3. I love Suzanne’s stories. Thanks for sharing.