Monday, July 8, 2013

Frame 232 by Wil Mara

During the reading of her mother’s will, Sheila Baker discovers that she has inherited everything her parents ever possessed, including their secrets.  A mysterious safe-deposit box key leads her to the answer to one of history’s greatest questions --- Who killed John F. Kennedy?  Not only does she have the missing film that exposes her late mother as the infamous “Babushka Lady”, --- she has incontrovertible proof that there was more than one shooter.

On the run from people who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets buried, Sheila turns to billionaire sleuth Jason Hammond for help.  Having lost his own family in a tragic plane crash, Jason knows a thing or two about running from the past.  With a target on their backs and time running out, can Jason finally uncover the truth behind the crime that shook a generation --- or will he and Sheila become its final victims?

So I’ve looked at this book for a long time and never could bring myself to sitting down and actually opening to the first page.  Why?  I don’t know, really.  It could be the cover, the content or just my procrastination gene kicking in.  In the end, I did sit down and open the book and I will admit, I didn’t get much sleep for the next couple of days.

What would you do if you were the only person that knew one of the biggest secrets of all time?  Would you tell somebody? Would it eat away at you every day? Would you take the secret to your grave?  Margaret Baker was faced with that very dilemma when she was in Dallas and filmed something on her camera.  Once the news spread about the assassination of President Kennedy, she thought back to her camera and what she may have caught while she was filming.  Once she had the film developed, she locked it away in a safe deposit box and never looked at it again.  Now Margaret has passed and her daughter, Sheila, finds out that not only did she inherit the house and belongings of her mother, she has also inherited this national treasure.  Knowing that there really isn’t anyone that she can trust, Sheila hunts down Jason Hammond and enlists his help.  After his initial disbelief, Jason quickly comes to her aid as Sheila’s life is put in danger.  Someone knows that the film exists and knows that she has it.  Will Sheila and Jason be able to stay a step ahead of those after them?  Is there someone that they can turn to with this lost secret?  What exactly does the film show?  Read the rest of my review and then run to your nearest Christian Bookstore and BUY THE BOOK!

This is not the first book by Wil Mara, but it is his first novel written as a Christian Fiction novel.  This novel does everything that I would hope for in a great book.  It provided me with entertainment, it embellished on something ‘factual’ to the point of making me do some research myself on that fateful day in Dallas and it left me satisfied and wanting more.  It was refreshing to see the main character as a flawed person that was able to return to his faith as the story progressed.  I was concerned at the end that there were going to be some big plot holes that were just glossed over (like how Jason could escape from the Coast Guard without facing persecution), but my concern was unfounded.

Is this a "guy's book"?  There is so much action and adventure in this book, there’s no way that this could not be considered a great “guy’s book”.  With the mix of the historical information provided about the assassination, everybody should pick up this book and dive right in.

I had a chance to ask Mr. Mara some questions and he was nice enough to spend a couple of minutes with us and give us his answers:

What is your favorite bible verse and why?

I love the verse from Luke 12:48 in the King James Bible—“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” And I don’t think that should be strictly interpreted to mean people who were born wealthy or with an abundance of talent or natural intelligence or whatever. I always took it to mean that everyone has the potential to offer something special to the world—and once you find out what that something is, you have a responsibility to get out there and make use of it.

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?

I have several hopes in this regard. First and foremost, I pray that all readers simply enjoy the story. Fiction can service our lives in many ways, and one of the most important is to provide an enjoyable temporary respite from the rigors of daily living. No matter how wonderful your life may be, we all need a break from time to time. A good novel should furnish that opportunity. Second, I’m hoping readers will learn a little bit more about the Kennedy assassination—a few details that most people still don’t know about, the continuing impact those few seconds in Dallas had on the world, and so on. And third, it would be a source of great pride if readers could walk away from this first story about Jason Hammond and his faith-based struggles thinking a little bit more about their own challenges as Christians in a world that isn’t always as rewarding as we might like it to be.

Besides writing, what are some of your favorite hobbies? 

I spend a lot of time with my family and love every blessed moment. That’s first and foremost. I like to read quite a bit (it suppose it would be fairly ridiculous if I didn’t). I also enjoy cooking, although the things I cook aren’t always the healthiest. And I just took my first stab at gardening. Since nothing I planted this past spring has died yet, I’m finding it very satisfying.

What advice would you give to a beginning writer?

Practice your craft until you are absolutely certain your material is worth an editor’s time. Be brutally honest with your evaluations, no matter how much it hurts. Tom Clancy once said something along the lines of, “I became a good writer by being a bad one first.” That’s very useful advice. Above all else, stick with it. You’ll never publish anything if you quit, right?

Favorite memory from childhood?

I have so many that I wouldn’t know where to begin. I didn’t have the easiest childhood, but the happy memories I do have I cherish very much.

Favorite comfort food?

Anything that would be prepared in a smoker, e.g., ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, chicken thighs, etc. As I said earlier, I sometimes eat things I really shouldn’t. I’m actually fairly disciplined with my dietary practices. But if every food item in the world had the same nutritional impact, my personal menu would read like something from that show BBQ Pitmasters.


Wil Mara has been writing books since 1988.  He started with a manuscript about herpetology (a childhood hobby), which led to a job as an editor with TFH Publications, aka, “The World’s Largest Publisher of Animal Books”.  In the mid ‘90s, he left TFH to work for Harcourt-Brace, at which time he began his first foray into fiction, ghostwriting a title for Albert Whitman and Company’s popular “Boxcar Children Mysteries”.  By the time he did his fifth “Boxcar” in 1999, he was also editing for textbook publisher Prentice Hall.  In addition to “Frame 232”, Wil is the author of 2 other disaster thrillers.

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