Pastor Robert Davis gives his 11 year old daughter a quick smile as she mounts her bike and pedals away from the church's yard on that summer morning in 1988 With his mind already on his daily obligations, he never even briefly thought that harm would find his precious daughter on her short ride home. In fact, she never arrives home, clearly the victim of an abduction.
The community rallies together, black and white photos and pleading posters pepper the nearby Adirondack Mountain towns and villages, but no clues emerge. Annie has simply disappeared, leaving her father, mother and younger brother to settle into some semblance of an altered life. Pastor Bob continues his duty in the pulpit, but his faith is severely tested as he sees his wife bury herself in a quiet grief. Although he still loves her and their young son, he doesn't have the strength to be the man he needs to be. He has really begun to question whether he should continue at the church; how can he shepherd others when daily they see how much he is hurting. Where is God in all this?
Truly each day is a "put one shoe in front of the other" type of day for Pastor Bob, months tick by, and eventually 18 months have passed. No one seems to be looking for Annie anymore, except for Robert, who looks for her in every voice and face he sees. Then on a wintery morning, young Skye Taylor ventures out to make a snow angel. Recently adopted by a loving family, the young girl is fascinated that school has been cancelled, giving her the entire day to play outside. When her mother discovers a short time later that Skye is not in the yard, she quickly calls the police. Suddenly Skye's plight and Annie's disappearance are linked; and Pastor Bob, his friend Sheriff Brower, and the people of the Adironacks are determined to bring the girls back.
I started reading Miracle on Snowbird Lake late in the evening, intending to read just one chapter before bed. Before I realized it, I was 90 pages into the book, wishing I could finish it before bedtime. Since I really can't handle those all night reading sessions anymore, I set the book aside, but finished it right away the next day. I was not disappointed. Sometimes I have trouble categorizing suspenseful novels as Christian fiction, especially with characters as dark as the villain in this book, but unfortunately terrible things do happen to loving families in real life, and like the book's Davis family, they must hold on to their faith or let pain destroy them.
Bednarz's book, which is his first full length novel, won first place for fiction in Deep River Books 2012 Writer's Contest out of 440 entries. Deep River Publishing is an interesting style of publishing house. It supports new authors who may not get picked up by the bigger publishers, but the company is not a self-publishing venture. Authors are given editorial and promotion support, something that is lacking in the self-publishing business. I was given a copy of this book for review purposes from Bring It On Communications, but all opinions are mine.
You can sample Bednarz's writing at http://www.stanbednarzstories.com/