In this continuing LDS suspense series by Lynn Gardner, we begin “Amethysts and Arson” in time to see Bart get a phone call from his Aunt Emma. Uncle Joe is a retired arson investigator who has been receiving anonymous tips of several terrible crimes that will be committed if Joe can’t solve them beforehand, and he needs help. Emma is scared and Bart decides he’d better come to the rescue. Allison is at his side – after all, they’re still newlyweds even if every minute of their married lives has been spent chasing terrorists.
Utilizing all the brainpower the anti-terrorist group Anastasia has to offer, Bart and Allison head down to Abilene, Texas, where Joe and Emma live. It turns out that each clue has been sent in the mail, has been constructed with letters out of the newspaper, and is mind-bogglingly hard to solve. Spreading the clues out on the table, the foursome study them until their eyes go buggy, only coming up with a vague idea of what it all could possibly mean. All they know is that starting Sunday, bombs are going to go off, killing hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people.
Finally feeling they’re on to something, Bart and Allison jump in their jet and take off for their first clue. Sure enough, they locate a bomb, after a great deal of intensive searching. But they’ve only got a couple of days left to go, and still eleven clues to decipher.
In the middle of all this, Allison is starting to have second thoughts about whether she wants to be a mother. Could she handle raising a child on her own, while her husband gallivanted all over the world, saving the citizens of planet Earth? What if he were killed? Not expecting him to react with devastation, she tells Bart she’s not sure she wants to have children, and his emotionals nearly bring the case to a deadly halt as his focus shifts from his job to the children he may never have.
I think this may be my favorite Gardner to date. It was interesting to see how they solved the clues, the levels of suspense were just right, and the author’s writing has really shown improvement with each novel.
(This book was published by Covenant Communications in 1999.)