Critical Reaction by Todd Johnson


I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Courtroom suspense combined with a tightly woven action/thriller storyline makes for an excellent page-turner (or as in my case, a fast paced thumber on my Kindle). I found myself reading far into the night, which doesn't happen very often for me.

All things considered, the story is very interesting, and gripping. Johnson does an excellent job of painting realistic scenes of corporate management, courtroom drama, and blue collar worker motivations in small town America. Quite ingenious how he weaves these nuances into motivations. I'll be looking for more from this author.

Critical Reaction is written from several points of view. Although head jumping is not one of my favorite storyline ploys, there is no head-hopping within a single scene, praise the Lord! The writing is excellent and draws you into this very believable story.

Ryan The Attorney whose daughter, Emily, is also an attorney. Ryan lost his wife and was devastated to the point of basically losing his practice if not his reputation. He was so decimated by his wife's death, he almost completely alienated his daughter. He is extraordinarily perceptive, so much so that you wonder how he could have allowed his relationship with his daughter fall so far into the pits. 

Kierney who is on temporary duty at the Hanford plutonium, supposedly now defunct, factory finds himself in terrible straits after his first chapter harrowing experience. He calls his friend Emily who talks her dad into representing him.

Poppy is another security guard at Hanford. You follow his experiences after the first chapter explosion trying to juggle life, wife, family, and a search for his friend Lew who disappeared after the first chapter.

Another mid-management person whose name I have forgotten. This character proves to be crucial to the whole story, but I found his character development rather 2-dimensional. We are privy mostly to his thoughts and they don't seem to develop and then expose his motivations, except Greed. For all the nuances of this novel, the motivation is just too obvious. You know at the very first of his villainous personality traits but they don't become apparent until well into the book.

There is quite a bit of rehash. Three or four times we get Ryan's background about his wife and daughter. Enough already. The character I liked the most is Poppy. He is the most believable and direct. It is almost like an initial story centered around him, then was later expanded to include background stories of the rest of the characters.

I won't spoil the ending for anyone, but frankly I felt a bit ripped-off. Investing all my time in reading this story I wanted very much to have that satisfaction of Ryan and Emily wiping the courtroom floor with Hanford. Not. So don't get your hopes up. They do get just desserts, but just not in the courtroom... sigh.

Where to Purchase

Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter. Visit his website at


Strait of Hormuz by Davis Bunn


A most exciting and satisfying sequel to Rare Earth. I highly recommend this offering by Davis Bunn. Marc Royce on another mission, this time to prevent global conflict and an Iranian nuclear arms attack... or would that be chemical warfare against the United States. Royce's love life is explored, and it is very well done, too.

You can read an excerpt here.


"They're out there. The danger is real... and inbound."--Marc Royce
An under-the-radar phone call from the U.S. State Department puts Marc Royce once again on assignment--ferreting out rumors of a clandestine operation stretching from Asia to the Mideast. At stake is Iran's threat to blockade the narrow Strait of Hormuz, cutting off vital shipping routes and escalating global tensions beyond the breaking point.

Under the guise of investigating money laundering via high-end art purchases in Europe, Royce finds himself in Switzerland with only sketchy information, no backup, and without a single weapon other than his wits.

His appointment with a gallery owner in Geneva is a dead end--the man is on the floor with a bullet through his chest. But it turns out Royce does have backup. The Mossad has sent someone to keep an eye on this undercover op, which is of more than casual interest to the Israelis. And it's someone Royce knows...

A small team gathers around Royce--
a single objective against multiple enemies.

Available in December... look for it at your favorite book store.


1. The first two novels in the Marc Royce series have been bestsellers and also won praise from
critics. Lion of Babylon was named one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2011, and Rare
Earth won the 2012 Christy Award for Suspense Fiction. What do you see is behind this

The stories have certainly resonated with the audience. I have tried to develop a strong sense of
unfolding drama combined with a unique spiritual theme. This moral structure plays out both
in the story and the characters. My aim is to create an inspirational challenge that remains with
the reader long after the book has been set down.

2. All three of these stories focus on the missionary church movement in high-risk areas of
the world. Lion of Babylon explored the church in Baghdad, and Rare Earth looked at the
rising church movement in Kenya. Where does Strait of Hormuz take place?

Well, obviously the title gives this away, at least in part. The Strait of Hormuz is one of the
world’s most critical waterways. Stretching between Iran and the Gulf states, the Strait is home
to two U.S. fleets. More than one-third of all the oil consumed worldwide passes through these
waters. But the story actually begins in Switzerland, before traveling to the Sinai Peninsula and
then into the hotly contested Strait of Hormuz.

3. What spiritual theme is the focus of this third novel?
One growing area of the missionary church movement is with displaced persons. More than
five million Iranians have been expelled from their homeland or been forced to flee the current
regime. This includes virtually the entire Christian population. The missionary movement has
made enormous strides in bringing peace to these families and introducing Christ to those
Muslims exiled because of an oppressive government.

4. What drew you to the missionary church movement as a theme?
I actually came to faith in a missionary church. I was working as a consultant based in Germany.
The year I accepted Christ, the Southern Baptist Mission Board founded a missionary church in
Dusseldorf. I attended the church, I grew in the church, I studied under two amazing
pastors, and one of them returned to Europe to officiate my wedding. It was also where I learned
to write. Two weeks after coming to faith, I felt called to writing. I wrote for nine years and
completed seven books before my first was accepted for publication. The church, its members,
and the elders all played a vital role in bringing me to where I am now. I am living testimony to
their ministry.

5. All three of these novels have given significant insight into the Muslim world, something
critics around the nation have picked up on. What experience do you have with this region?

For the four years prior to moving to Germany, I lived and worked in the Middle East. I was the
only non-Muslim in the management structure of a family-owned company. They had three
major arms: construction equipment, shipping, and pharmaceuticals. I rose to become
marketing manager of the pharmaceutical division. One of the requirements of the job was to
take instruction in the Koran and Islamic history from an imam who taught at the local
university. I think this experience played a major role in my coming to Christ. And that is a story
I would love to tell.
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