Book Review: Back On Murder

7 Jul

Det. Roland March is a homicide cop on his way out. But when he’s the only one at a crime scene to find evidence of a missing female victim, he’s given one last chance to prove himself. Before he can crack the case, he’s transferred to a new one that has grabbed the spotlight–the disappearance of a famous Houston evangelist’s teen daughter. With the help of a youth pastor with a guilty conscience who navigates the world of church and faith, March is determined to find the missing girls while proving he’s still one of Houston’s best detectives.


J. Mark Bertrand lived in Houston, where the series is set, for fifteen years, earning an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Houston. But after one hurricane too many he left for South Dakota. Mark has been arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, was the foreman of one hung jury and served on another that acquitted Vinnie Jones of assault. In 1972, he won an honorable mention in a child modeling contest, but pursued writing instead.

My Impressions:

Roland March is a detective with lots of problems.  He is the designated cop to take on the least liked jobs:  task forces, suicide detail, cars-for-criminals warrant sweeps.  He was once on top; a respected homicide detective.  But due to a personal tragedy, he is on his way out.  Desperation drives his decisions — some good, some not so much.  But through all he is determined to be Back on Murder. His marriage is also shaky, but not unsalvageable.  It’s the season that sets things on edge.  (You’ll understand as the book progresses.)

J. Mark Bertrand has created a gritty, suspense-filled novel that keeps you turning the pages to the end.  His character, Roland March, is at once endearing and exasperating. The reader will cheer for his victories and groan at his often thoughtless and stupid mistakes.  But March is a real character, he recognizes his flaws and punishes himself for the errors he commits.  The other characters in the book are also well drawn and believable — the good guys and the bad.

Back on Murder is more than just a police procedural, though.  Faith runs through the story in the supporting characters.  It is just enough to get March and the reader thinking.

I really liked this book and would not hesitate to recommend it to any adult reader.

Highly Recommended.

I will be sitting down with Mark Bertrand on Sunday at the International Christian Retail Show.  If you have any questions concerning this book or future projects, please comment here and I will ask.

(I bought this book for my husband for Christmas, so this review is completely unsolicited.)

You may also be interested in his collaborative work with Deanne Gist, Beguiled.

One Response to “Book Review: Back On Murder”


  1. Author, Author! — J. Mark Bertrand « BY THE BOOK - July 21, 2011

    […] Bertrand, author of Back on Murder, Pattern of Wounds and co-author (with Deeanne Gist) of Beguiled sat down with me last week at the […]

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