|Rev Win Brady
(creator: William Kritlow)
|Rev Win(some) Brady "in his early 30s, is tall and athletic-looking with handsome, angular features. His only compromise to age was his thinning, sandy hair." He has "iron gray eyes, and a strong, cleft chin. His weight-training had broadened his shoulders and thickened his biceps". But, as his fiancée-to-be saw him, "He was such a curious contradiction. Physically he looked like a Chippendale dancer, but emotionally he seemed like Winnie-the-Pooh." Later on, she tells him, "Emotionally you haven't reached puberty".
He had chosen to stay at his seminary in Atlanta after graduating there three and a half years before we first meet him. He becomes assistant pastor at Sugar Steeple Church in Vermont, but decides that there are hardly any really "saved" Christians in the congregation. So, in the second book, he moves on to the new tent-based Grand Isles Community Church, also in Vermont. The Grand Isles are among the islands in the 90 mile long Lake Champlain that stretches all the way down from Canada, wedged between New York and Vermont.
Win is convinced that, whatever happens to him, "Good will come of it". When asked, "You really think there is a God in control of all this chaos?", Win replies with deep conviction, "I do". But "Win knew it was a manufactured conviction. It was the kind of conviction he knew he would have if he never had any doubts, never worried about anything, never wondered if God really did have his head screwed on right. But he figured 80% of him believed, and he did try to live his life as if the percentage were higher. But there were doubts - planted and nurtured by Satan and his own desire to be top dog at least once in his life."
He becomes engaged to Ginger Glasgow, "a tall Nordic beauty", who, like his new friend Bray Sanderson, is a police officer.
William (Bill) Kritlow was born in Gary, Indiana, and moved to northern California when he was nine. He now lives in southern California with his wife with whom he had three daughters. He was awarded a MA in cybernetics. After spending 25 years in large scale computing, he changed his job so that he could spend most of his time writing. He now runs his own insurance company. He is the author of 5 other books as well as the Lake Champlain mysteries described below. His hobbies, he says, "include writing, golf, writing, traveling, and taking long walks to think about writing". He has been a deacon and Sunday School teacher at Shoreline Baptist Church in Fountain Valley.
Crimson Snow (1995)
Win strikes up a friendship with the detective despite the fact that "Sanderson hated churches - hated everything they stood for: superstition, oppression, surrender." But Sanderson has at least a sense of humor: "Now, who died?" he asks.
Win finds an old book belonging to the murdered man. The fact that it was written by O. Palmer Robertson, a real-life conservative theologian, convinces Win that the previous assistant pastor "may, and I emphasise may have been a Christian". Win soon convinces himself that the motive for the murder "is strongly spiritual .... And he recognized the combatants - himself and Satan."
He is still a virgin, and when an attractive married woman starts to kiss him, "he could hardly breathe ... What he saw was only in his mind, but it was vivid enough - Jesus' bloody palm. "Love me," he said.
Win does not seem to spend much time doing any church work, but he has a "magic check book" given him by his father that allows him to buy two expensive boats, one of which gets sunk in a storm on Lake Champlain (lots of boats seem to sink in storms on the lake in these stories).
However, he does make his first personal conversion. It's of of a particularly unpleasant 10-year-old, Chad, the precocious son of his about-to-be fiancée, police officer Ginger Glasgow, who at first had told him that if he married his mother he would "make your life a living hell... and I can do it." But, after being rescued from drowning, he suggests to Win, "Maybe you could tell me about Jesus now, Mr Brady?"
The pastor at Win's "dying" church, of whom neither Win nor the author approves, warns him that the "notion that God does not forgive us all is a devil's doctrine, Mr Brady. Christ died for all. God forgives all. Christ is in all. Our job is only to point that out." Win (and the author), on the other hand, seem to have an absolute conviction that only those who accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and declare themselves to be "saved", will be saved. And the whole plot seems engineered to make this point.
Fire on the Lake (1996)
When Detective Bray Sanderson is critically injured in a violent gunfight, ending in a fiery boat collision with suspected drug smugglers, Win (whose wedding to police officer Ginger Glasgow is just three months away) becomes personally involved in the investigation. Have the police overlooked some key evidence along the shore? Was the subsequent drowning of a young member of Win's congregation (before Win had had time to convert him) really just an accident?
One of the interesting sub-plots involves 10-year-old Gatlin, Ram's neglected daughter. It is a pity that she and the other two 10-year-olds in the story (Wins's fiancée's son Chad and a boy called Todd are all so unconvincingly precocious). And there is added excitement and interest because of a particularly dangerous villain who actually works right alongside Brad Sanderson in the police department.
Win himself, now assistant pastor in charge of youth at the tent-based Grand Isles Community Church, himself gets involved in more than one desperate fight, and, because of the courage he shows, is described by his fiancée Ginger as "more than Einstein and Goofy now. You've got a dash of Rambo thrown in. I'm finding that is very sexy."
But, despite "his energy, his naive courage", there is still something wimpish (he calls it impish) about him as when he repeats the trick he played when he was a student of leaving a goat in someone's bath tub. And, as the unrepentant Bray puts it, he is still "lousy with religion". He can't understand why Bray, despite his fearful injuries, has not turned to God. What is God up to? In Win's seminary days "the Lord was always there for him, and Win was always learning about or praying to him. They were special friends. But now the Lord wasn't taking him into his confidence. And yet Win knew he existed."
He is still very much aware of the occasional terrible presence of Satan, a presence that is "impressive, pervasive, all around him, all through him". "You'll never win again. Never," Win cries out to Satin an exploding voice.
There are, of course, the usual sudden conversions, as when the runaway woman finds herself reading the Bible and suddenly realises that Jesus "knew who she was - knew her before she even existed. Not only had he known her, but he'd predestined her to be part of his family." But, of course, "these words referred only to those who called upon Jesus for salvation. She hadn't done that yet." So she turned to him and "now she believed - believed in God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. She also believed there even though she didn't know what was in it, everything in the book she held was true." It's a very simplistic message, and not very likely to convince the unconverted.
However the plot has a number of dramatic episodes and holds the interest throughout, particularly when an attempt is made to murder the defenseless Bray as he lies in his hospital bed. At moments like this you really begin to feel quite involved.
Blood Money (1997)
And what exactly is the "family business" everyone is so anxious for Bray to become a part of, yet not willing to talk about? Why do the Sandersons seldom, if ever, leave their lavish island home? And what accounts for the disappearances and "accidents" over the years which have taken the lives of several relatives including Bray's parents? As Bray discovers dark secrets from the past, he begins to realise his own life is in danger. When Win and Ginger come to his aid, they too get caught up in a tangle of family history, mystery, and deceit.
Neither the plot nor the characters are at all convincing, and the grand finale, Involving a battle of boats on the lake, which culminates in a series of violent explosions that destroy virtually everything, defies belief. As do the series of sudden conversions. Even the hitherto non-believing Bray, when about to be drowned, suddenly calls out, "God, you know I'm a cynical old goat. Win's not delusional. You're real." And the murderous old lady, Bilba Sanderson, confronted by Win's question, "What think ye of Jesus?", suddenly "accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior". That, in the author's eyes, is all that really matters.
It was Bilba who, before she was converted, had stopped one of her relations throttling her husband by saying, "You can't kill him here. Not in front of the children." And I don't think this was meant to be funny. It was also she who had sent for Michelson, one of her hired hands, and told him "You know Bray Sanderson, my nephew?"
There is a lot of violence, and Win's and Bray's lives are constantly in danger, but you know that they are bound to survive. When a violent storm is about to sink Win's boat, his companion calls out, "Win, we're going to die!"
On one occasion, Win feels an overwhelming presence of evil. "What was it? Satan? Unlikely. Satan was an angel. He could be only in one place at a time ... One of Satan's lieutenants? It didn't matter" because "a breeze so soft and cool blew in from the lake. He needed that breeze. Not only did it refresh but it comforted. And when it left he knew. Jesus loved him."
And the moral of the piece? As one of the surviving Sandersons says, " I'm not going back to that place. I want to read the Bible and pray all the time." But the story is not a persuasive way of communicating such ideas, particularly as the plot is so unbelievable. This is by far the weakest of the three books, so it is perhaps no surprise that there were no others.
|Rev Win seems engaged in a constant battle with Satan - but, as he is a "saved" Christian, there is no doubt about who is going to win.|
|The second book has moments of real excitement, and is by far the best book of the three,|