Sky Zone by Creston Mapes will keep you on the edge of your chair…

I have told you those things so that you won’t abandon your faith.
For you will be expelled from the synagogues,
and the time is coming when
Those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God.
This is because they have never known the Father or me.
Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen,
You will remember my warning.

—John 16:1-4

With this quote, as applicable today as it was nearly 2000 years ago, Creston Mapes begins his thriller, Sky Zone. I’d picked up Sky Zone for two reasons: I was tired of reading romances and chick lit, and I’d interviewed Creston at the International Christian Retail Show. I’d not heard of him before the Show, but the publicity for Sky Zone had intrigued me enough to ask for a copy of the book and to interview him. What a winning decision that was for me! I now have a new favorite author.

Jack Crittenden is at his wit’s end. He lost his job when his company downsized, his wife is 8 months pregnant, her mother lives with them and is showing signs of dementia, and their money is almost gone. To survive until he can get a better position, he’s taken a part-time job working for a company, EventPros, that manages events at Festival Arena. His best friend there, Brian Shakespeare, is an ex-Marine and a survivalist – and he and Jack and their wives socialize together.

Mapes uses a back and forth flashback format to introduce us to the characters and develop them to the point that we really care about what will happen to them. Reporting to work for an event that involves a Senator running for President along with a high profile Christian singer, Jack and his co-workers hear the news, “We’ve got a national security threat …” and we’re off and running on a fascinating and very realistic scenario. How Jack and Brian handle things, how the Senator and the singer act and react, how Jack’s and Brian’s wives get involved kept me up reading until I finished the book.

Creston says his driving desire is “to share the transforming power of Christ through gritty contemporary fiction,” and that he strives for tension on every page. He primarily writes books about reporters and journalists (6 books). Fear Has a Name, the first of the three-book Crittendon Files series, is a finalist for an ACFW Carol Award in the thriller category and won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award. The second book, Poison Town, released in February 2014, and Sky Zone came out June 1, 2014.

Creston says he was “churched” as a kid, but was a wild child and much in love with rock music. He tells me he had a huge crush on Patty in the 4th and 6th grades and finally convinced her that she should marry him. He studied magazine journalism at Bowling Green State University and was a newspaper and photo journalist in Florida and Ohio.

Saved at age 28, he felt he needed to turn his writing in a different direction. Creston says he was doing well at freelancing for seven or eight years and then one day the market dried up. Writing as a full-time endeavor, Dark Star and Full Tilt were published – the two books in The Rock Star Chronicles. His standalone book, Nobody, ranked as an Amazon #1 bestseller at one time.

Creston is from Akron, Ohio, but he and his wife, Patty, live in Atlanta, GA. Creston works from his home-office in Atlanta for some of the nation’s top media companies, Christian ministries, and nationally-recognized corporations, including Chick-fil-A, Coke, ABC-TV, and The Weather Channel. In addition to Creston’s novels and freelance writing, he has ghostwritten and edited eight non-fiction titles.

He and Patty have four children: a boy, 14, and three girls – 17, 18, and 24. I asked him what his readers didn’t know about him – he says he loves to paint watercolors and has a part-time job in event management at a popular venue in Duluth, Georgia.

You will definitely want to get and read Sky Zone if you like action-adventure books with a twist. I give it 5 stars and will be getting the rest of Creston’s books very soon. I was given a copy of Sky Zone by David C Cook Publishers for my unbiased review.

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