Elysium Tide (Book Review)

  • Author: James R. Hannibal
  • Publisher: Revell
  • Available Now
  • Synopsis: While taking a mandate respite from his London hospital work, neurosurgeon Peter Chesterfield becomes embroiled in a mystery. Working alongside Maui PD officer Lisa Kealoha, he seeks to solve the murder of a young woman he was treating.
  • DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.

Psalm 113:3

Spiritual Themes

I selected the verse from Psalm 113 for this review, because a sunset furnishes the springboard for much of the spiritual discussion in the book. Peter is an atheist, so he scoffs when another character praises God for the sunset. However, he does find himself returning to this conversation, later on (and he does call out to the Lord in a moment of desperation, as well).

There’s also a little bit of discussion about what happens when a person dies.

What I Liked

Peter begins the story as a rude, pompous speaker, which is my favorite kind of speaker to read. I feel that Hannibal did an excellent job crafting a consistent, believable (but also humorous) voice for this character. Additionally, Peter’s character development feels very realistic, not rushed or forced. I really like that the author did not give this character a sudden moment of conversion, which I very often see in Christian fiction.

I also really like that Hannibal’s adult books (I’ve read two, so far) do NOT rely on romance. In both novels I’ve read, there are some very subtle hints at romance, but it’s very light and inconclusive. This is so refreshing! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m also impressed when I can enjoy a work without reading for the romance, and this is definitely one of those cases.

The novel is set in Hawaii, and I really enjoyed the setting. It was fun to hang out with Peter at The Elysium Grand (which, as a side note, was such a GREAT name for the hotel; it packs so much feeling into those little chapter subheadings), but I also really liked having the opportunity to explore other parts of the island, along with the characters. And, the cover also helped to set the tone, for me.

I mentioned this when I reviewed The Paris Betrayal, but I really like the way the book is formatted, with tiny chapters and alternating viewpoints. I also like the setting headings, mentioned above. In addition to grounding me, they also made me feel a bit like a secret agent (I think, in the sense of having someone report their location to me).

The characters were intriguing, with their different backstories and motivations. After Peter (who I didn’t “like” as a person, but enjoyed reading), I would say Tuna was my favorite character. I really enjoyed seeing him put Peter in his place. Plus, he was such a fun, helpful guy with some impressive connections. I wouldn’t mind reading another book with Tuna in it.

Lisa also had a meaningful backstory, making her a sympathetic character. Although I much preferred reading from Peter’s perspective, I felt that Lisa’s personal history added texture to the story. Plus, I enjoyed reading the “frenemy” dynamic between Lisa and Detective Fan.

Audience

This made me happy: According to the Acknowledgements page, Hannibal seeks to write for “men and boys, who’ve become an underserved group in the Christian fiction industry.” As a female reader, there is so much content available to me in this genre, so this isn’t something I’ve thought a lot about. However, when I think about it, so much of Christian fiction is by women (and will often feature a more heavy romance emphasis). I’m simply delighted that Hannibal is aiming to provide good content for male Christian readers! Praise God!

Content

I’m really happy that this was (in my opinion) the worst part of the book, but chapter one is GRAPHIC and probably the grossest (non-sexual) thing I’ve read. I write this not so much as a critique, as for readers who may want to skip it. Here’s a synopsis if you just want to bypass the first few pages:

Peter is operating in a rain surgery theater in London. One of the neurosurgery fellows, Barbara, makes a mistake that nearly costs the life of the seven year-old patient. Peter rescues the operation but makes some very rude comments about Barbara (including a reference to “Barbara of Seville”) and makes cavalier comments about whether or not the patient will survive.

There is a moment where a criminal makes a comment about “police brutality,” which the officers don’t take seriously. Obviously, this takes place in a work of fiction, but police brutality is something that I think merits taking seriously.

Recommendation Status

Due to the graphic nature of chapter one, this is a book I would recommend with reader discretion. However, I do feel that it would be very easy to skip chapter one and just read the rest of the book. I am also so glad that Hannibal is writing books specifically for Christian boys and men.

Although Hannibal’s books take me a while to “get into,” I’m eager to see what he’ll write next!

Published by Stephanie Agnes-Crockett

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

2 thoughts on “Elysium Tide (Book Review)

  1. Thanks so much for the review, Stephanie! I haven’t seen a lot of Christian books that don’t feature a heavy romance (which is something I was recently thinking about the other day lol.)

    Like

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