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Posted April 8, 2009
A Test of Faith is third in the Mystery and the Minister's Wife series by Carol Cox. Not having read the previous two, I can vouch for the fact that the novel stands alone. The story is set in a small Tennessee town where everyone knows everyone else, with one or two exceptions, and everyone thinks they know everything to be known about everyone else. That said, the characters are very real and intriguing, with natural foibles and the usual urge to jump to the most popular conclusion. The writing draws you in to a relatively quiet, relatively ordered life. Disaster and heartache are brought down to a size where the reader knows that all will be resolved by the final page. And the reader of faith is reminded that all our disasters and heartaches are likewise soluble; that the Author, as opposed to the author, has everything in hand.
A stolen car crashes through the front window of the diner, but the driver has vanished, and the wallet on the passenger seat belongs to Kate, the minister's wife. While the townsfolk split their blame between Kate and the reformed alcoholic who is cleaning the church, Kate's husband breaks his leg, and a major storm breaks branches on the tree in their front yard. Nothing is ever simple, but an elegant solution awaits. And the book is a rewarding, peaceful read with interesting dilemmas, entertaining relationships, and a delightful sense of faith.