Tag Archives: Roland March

Nothing to Hide by J. Mark Bertrand

She rolls her eyes. “The Song of Roland. Don’t get me started. That was the first one we had to read. If that’s chivalry, then you can have it. That book infuriates me.”

“Really.” I flip through the pages, many of which are underscored. I’m familiar with the story, of course, though I can’t recall having actually read the poem. In fact, before now I’m not sure I realized it was a poem, with all the stanzas and verses. “He’s supposed to blow the horn to signal the ambush, is that it?”

“He’s supposed to blow it if they need help. Only Roland’s too proud for that, so he waits and waits until everybody’s basically dead. Does that sound like heroism to you?”

Bertrand’s third thrilling novel in his Roland March series begins with a body dumped in a recreational park. The head is missing and the hands, one of which is pointing, have been ‘degloved,’ which is a clinical word for skinned. March’s partner on the case, Jerry Lorenz, suggests the hand is pointing at something, maybe the missing head, and March nearly breaks his back looking for it. No dice.

I don’t care to outline the plot any further, because I enjoyed jumping into this novel having forgotten almost everything I’d heard about it. It’s a fun story, as are all of Bertrand’s March novels. Personal moments are filled with dialogue like the above interchange on The Song of Roland, showing Bertrand’s appealing bookish style. This brief description of the poem absolutely foreshadows the plot, which is exactly the way they do it in the movies, which reminds me how someone should be throwing money at Bertrand for the honor of taking his March trilogy to the big screen.

March isn’t any kind of super cop or brilliantly quirky detective. He’s a seasoned professional, like many homicide detectives on the force today. He has overcome the difficulties of his past, put numerous criminals behind bars, and continues to seek (and question) trust from his colleagues. He solves his cases by hard, honest work: asking questions, following leads, and pressuring forensics to cough up the right evidence. Like the title suggests, Nothing to Hide drives its story to a bold climax where all cards are on the table and everyone’s exposed.

Nothing to Hide, by J. Mark Bertrand.

In the third installment in J. Mark Bertrand’s excellent crime series about Houston police detective Roland March, we find March examining the body of a man dumped on a basketball court. The body’s head is missing, and both hands have been skinned. March’s former enemy – now his friend and partner – Jerry Lorenz, thinks there might be some significance in the fact that one of the fleshless hands is arranged as if pointing. March jumps a ditch to investigate, falling and injuring his back. And there don’t seem to be any clues in that direction.

But it’s early yet.

Nothing to Hide takes March on a dangerous and tragic ride that reintroduces him to antagonists from his own past, and forces him to push the edge of the law in order to pursue the impartial justice he demands for every victim, and for which he’s willing to put his life and freedom on the line. An interesting sideline is that part of the plot anticipates the ATF’s disastrous “Fast and Furious” program, although the book was written before that scandal was made public.

Strong stuff. I salute Bethany House for publishing a series so far beyond the usual standard of Christian fiction, both in quality and in subject matter. The Christian elements are there, as an integral part of the story, but the purpose here is to tell stories about the truth, not to present a gospel tract to the reader.

The book works fine as a stand-alone, but there’s a definite story arc in connection with the previous novels in the series. I’m contemplating re-reading them all to get the sweep of the thing. Highly recommended, with cautions for disturbing content.