Terri Blackstock has done it again. The Christian thriller and romantic suspense author is back with another masterpiece of a novel, Aftermath. If you love the suspense of crime podcasts (Hey there, fans of "Serial," "Crime Junkies," and "My Favorite Murder") and the episodic thrills of Law + Order (BA DUM), this is the book for you. The best part? It's a clean crime drama. No gore here—just really good storytelling with carefully crafted characters you won't be able to stop thinking about.
Here's the premise: Three young best friends are at a concert, dancing and taking selfies and having the time of their life, until a presidential candidate takes the stage and a bomb goes off. Only one woman of the trio, Taylor, leaves the venue physically unscathed. She's tormented for months afterward by the emotional trauma of surviving the attack and the devastating loss of her friends.
Later that night, former military man Dustin is pulled over by police with a warrant to search his car. Inside the trunk are explosives and bomb-making materials, but he has no idea how they got there. He's arrested for domestic terrorism, and for some reason, the only person who pops into his head in that moment is his childhood neighbor and best friend, Jamie, who taught him everything he used to know about God. Conveniently, she's now a criminal defense attorney (and widow) who risks her career and reputation to defend him in the name of friendship—even though they haven't spoken in over a decade. She knows in her gut that someone is framing Dustin, but she just can't figure out why someone would do it, or who it could possibly be.
Along the way to solving the mystery are heart-wrenching side plots, with Taylor's mental health struggles and obsessive-compulsive disorder alongside her devastating grief; Dustin and Jamie's reconnection full of trust and honesty and a little bit of romance; and Dustin's business partner, Travis, caring deeply for his beloved wife, who has a terminal cancer diagnosis.
Aftermath has it all:
- It starts with a bang—literally—and never slows down from that initial excitement in the first few pages.
- It deals candidly with mental illness, grief, and trauma in numerous ways and doesn't shy away from the ugly truths of human existence.
- It brings together two old friends in earnest, with a dash of romance.
- It works through the sometimes chaotic labyrinth of solving a crime and proving someone's innocence.
- It breaks hearts with a side character's cancer diagnosis and the loving husband who won't leave her side.
- It brings relatable, lovable, unforgettable characters into the world.
- It keeps faith in God at the forefront of the suspenseful story.
It's a story that has every element we crave when we watch or listen to endless episodes of shows like Law + Order or true crime podcasts. There's the big event, the exposition with details we maybe would have rather not had take up residence in our imaginations, the deep dives into each character—no matter how big or small their role is in the story, and the meandering mystery keeping us on the edge of our seats until we find out who, exactly, dunnit. It's full of twists and turns to keep you flipping pages.
Aftermath is the perfect thriller and a story about redemption, faith, friendship, and healing. It comes out on May 11—just in time for summer beach reading—and all Law + Order and crime fans absolutely must get their hands on it.