Widows & Orphans

Rachael Flynn Mystery Series #1

Christian - Fiction
280 Pages
Reviewed on 03/10/2009
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

Attorney and new mother Rachael Flynn rushed to her brother’s side when he confesses to murder. Josh gave his life to the Lord when he was twelve years old. From that day on he dedicated his life to protecting the down trodden. Rachael suspected that Josh was trying to protect someone else. With the assistance of her artist husband, Rachael investigates the crime.

Widows & Orphans is the debut of a new series. A Rachael Flynn Series’ will take the readers into a commanding story of family, faith, and murder. You will not be able to put this highly-charged book down. Meissner knows how to add just the right amount of humor to underscore her mystery. She understands the vulnerability of the human soul. Josh is a unique character. He is dedicated to serving God by serving others. He is self-sacrificing, yet does not understand the full mercy of the Lord. Rachael is intelligent and has a great love for her bother. Fans of Christian romance will not want to miss Widows & Orphans.

Sharon Hinck

Susan Meissner's thoughtful and introspective voice brings the perfect tone to this story of darkness and hope, good intentions and flaws, determination and mistakes.

Joshua, since age 12, has been determined to serve widows and orphans - but his zeal has led him into some troubling directions.

Now that Joshua, an adult, confesses to a murder, his sister Rachael is convinced it is her job to vindicate him. In her quest, she employs the same kind of tunnel vision Joshua has always had.

The characters are complex and interesting, and some of the supporting cast, like Fig, are particularly endearing.

The dilemma of the story grabbed me, and I couldn't stop reading. Highly recommended.

Kathi Macias

Just when I think author Susan Meissner can't possibly outdo her last book--she does. Maintaining her trademark style and grace, as well as her ability to peer inside the human soul, Susan has now added the element of mystery to put her already excellent fiction over the top.

With her introduction of protagonist Rachael Flynn--attorney, nursing mom, loving wife, and devoted daughter and sister--Meissner has succeeded in hooking her readers for an entire series. From the opening moment when Rachael learns that her brother, Josh, has been arrested for murder, the reader is both comfortable and captivated with Rachael's persona and her dilemma. And how can anyone not love a book that has as one of its primary characters a more than slightly eccentric artist named Fig, who sees nothing amiss about painting Rachael's baby daughter's fingernails bright green?

But for all the humanness and reality-tinged humor woven into Meissner's debut mystery, the plot is never forced nor easily uncovered. This author knows how to use the secrets of the human heart to weave an irresistible song of words.

Margo Carmichael

While Rachael Flynn is home enjoying matenity leave, her beloved brother Joshua confesses to murder. Years ago, an evangelist laid hands on him and prophesied that Josh would take care of widows and orphans a la the Bible verse, James 1:29, the definition of pure religion. Devoted to the call, Josh has always been a bit of a social renegade, often in legal trouble for defending the downtrodden.

But murder? Is it possible? And he won't let New York attorney sister, Rachael, or anyone else defend him.

Rachael's husband, Trace, a commercial artist, and his artist friends sketch possible scenarios of the murder scene--including the presence of evil personified. And the murder scene involves young Vietnamese girls being horribly abused for profit.

Which scenario is closest to the truth? Are any of them?

Rachael is convinced Josh is lying to protect someone. But Josh never lies. So, how could he commit murder?

The heavy theme is balanced by Rachael's darling baby daughter, McKenna, Rachael's supportive if stressed husband, Trace, and Trace's kooky artist friend Fig, who calls Rachael "kumquat." Together, the well-rounded and humorous characters and the gripping story make a five-star novel--and a great forerunner to the second in the series, _Sticks and Stones_.

Pam Meyers

Widows and Orphans is the first book written by Susan Meissner I've read, but it won't be the last.

From the first chapter to the last I was drawn into the story. I was only sorry that my life got in the way too many times, causing me to take way too long to read through to the end. Meissner has a way of connecting the reader with her characters so much so they become real. Even Fig was likable. First described in Rachael's (the heroine) inner thoughts as a friend of her husband Trace's from his art school days who irritated her to no end, I was prepared to not like this unique guy. But, as Meissner developed his character through the story, I came to like him as even Rachael seemed to do as well. In fact, none of the characters remain static in who they are, especially Rachel and her brother.

The mystery surrounds Rachel's brother and his commitment to fulfilling his calling from God--providing for and protecting widows and orphans. He's gotten himself into a real jam. One Rachael, a defense attorney, can't seem to help him with, nor does he seek her help. The tension of the mystery builds as Rachael seeks the ever-elusive truth. Throughout the story, the darkness surrounding her brother's predicament is delightfully balanced by periodic scenes with Rachel's three-month old daughter McKenna. Interaction between mother and baby provide sweet release. Something all babies do, real or fictionalized. A wonderful countering technique.

This is a great read. The second in this new series is due out in early '07 and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

Fresh Brewed Writer

I am the author of the "Armchair Interviews" review.

This is a fabulous book! Susan Meissner is a fabulous storyteller, and she has created a wonderful heroine in Rachael Flynn.

Do yourself a favor and drop it in your Amazon shopping cart. Then you can join me in the breathless wait for book 2 in the series!

Michelle Sutton

Widows & Orphans is another page turner crafted by Susan Meissner. I have always enjoyed her women's fiction, but after reading her Rachel Flynn Mystery, book 1, I can see the author has a real knack for mystery plots. I had a very hard time putting this book down. Just when I thought I knew where the story might be going, the heroine would discover something else. And she was a fabulous character, too. A new mom, breastfeeding, and the works. What a sympathetic heroine!

Rachel loved her brother Josh, believed in him, and was willing to fight for him and for the truth even when he'd given up on himself. Rachel's brother was one of the most creative characters I've seen in a long time in regards to his internal motivation. The in-depth examination of Josh's heart (that the author delved into) gave me the happy shivers. The spiritual thread was also profound and so well done I'm still thinking about it and probably will be for days.

The entire book was written from the heroine's perspective, but the author did such a wonderful job with the characterization, dialog and description, that I didn't notice because I felt like I knew the other players as if I'd been in their points of view. Fig was a total dork genius, but lovable and funny. I loved how he referred to Rachel's baby as the dictator or the princess and stuff like that. Trace, Rachel's husband, was an awesome character, too, and a great husband. I just loved the whole crew of secondary characters and I'm thrilled that there are several more books coming out in this series. I can't wait to get to Sticks and Stones next! If I didn't have so many deadlines I'd read it now!



Christy E. Barritt

Meissner has such a well-crafted writing style that she'll easily pull you into the lives of her characters. She has a gift for creating realistic characters that you'll love. I especially loved Fig, an eccentric artist who made me giggle on more than one occassion. Good job, Susan! I look forward to reading more of your work.

A.K. Arenz

Susan Meissner blends mystery and the importance of faith-based family values into a story that makes you want more of Rachael & Trace Flynn's unique way of solving a case. This one's a keeper!