THE HEALER

Dee Henderson, Author . Multnomah $11.99 (350p) ISBN 1-57673-925-2

Few Christian novelists are currently as hot as Henderson, who is burning up CBA bestseller charts with two different series and earning a reputation for her action-packed stories of suspense, romance and courage. But this fifth installment in the O'Malley series shows a bit of wear and tear. Rachel O'Malley is a trauma psychologist specializing in helping victims of disasters obtain closure and heal spiritually. Her emotions are drained by assisting refugees after an Illinois flood and by her grief over her sister Jennifer, who is dying of cancer. As Rachel works to repair flood-damaged psyches and homes while exploring romance with Capt. Cole Parker, another sister, Lisa, a forensic pathologist, tries to decipher clues at a possible double murder scene. The murder weapon turns up again in a rather clichéd Columbine-esque school shooting that improbably finds Rachel and Jennifer arriving at its onset. It's a dizzying read: the strained plot never seems fully fleshed out, and there are some odd moments, such as when Rachel and Jennifer plan a "surprise wedding" for their sister Kate. Henderson's writing can have a magical quality that keeps readers turning the pages, though, even as they're scrambling to remember the more than two dozen featured characters, their occupations and their relationships to one another. Loyal Henderson fans will likely snatch up this latest O'Malley tale, but new readers won't get the flavor for the quality of some of her previous offerings. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/22/2002
Release date: 00/00/0000
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