Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The O'Malley series by Dee Henderson: stories of family and faith

The O’Malley series by Dee Henderson is another example of great books that have stayed with me. Each book focuses on one aspect of the Christian theology with each character who is a non-Christian struggling to understand and accept. Set in Chicago, Illinois, The O’Malleys are 7 individuals who met at Trevor House, a home for children who have been orphaned or taken from their parents’ custody. Together, they decide to start their own family, choosing the name O’Malley and maintained a strong bond that rivals some natural siblings.

First, The Negotiator is the story of Kate O’Malley, a police negotiator who meets Dave Richman, a FBI agent. Together, they must untangle a mystery of a plane bombing. The main theme is God’s mercy versus justice. She learns that her youngest sister, Jennifer, is sick and she questions God’s mercy to those she believes deserve justice. Dave must help her understand that God accomplishes both through Jesus Christ.  One of my favorite quotes from this series is: “Faith is the ultimate personal decision.” I also love Dave’s explanation of the different between a relationship with Christ and a religion: it is the distinction between “follow me” and “follow these rules.” 

Second, The Guardian is the story of Marcus O’Malley, a U.S. Marshall who is assigned to protect Sherri Hanford, the only eyewitness to the shooting death of her father and a family friend who is a federal judge. The main topic between Marcus and Sherri is the idea of unanswered prayer. Marcus, who abandoned his faith when God didn’t answer his childhood prayer and Sherri, who also had an unanswered prayer, helps Marcus understand that God doesn’t always answer prayers in the way we want Him to. God always answers prayers. Sometimes He answers yes, sometimes it’s not yet and sometimes it’s no.

Third, The Truth Seeker is the story of Lisa O’Malley, a forensic pathologist who with the help of Quinn Diamond, a U.S. Marshall and Marcus’ partner, investigates a possible serial killer with a connection to a missing person case from Quinn’s hometown. The topic of the Resurrection is the main theme. Lisa, who has witnessed death as a young child and spent her career investigating death, doesn’t believe that the Resurrection is real. Through the course of the investigations, she must decide if she believes in Jesus and His Resurrection.

Fourth, The Protector is the story of Jack O’Malley, a firefighter who is drawn to Cassie Ellis, a fellow firefighter who was injured in a tragic fire. Together with their boss, Cole Parker, they must investigate a series of arson fires before someone is hurt or killed. The main theme of this story is the reality of Hell. Jack is one of my favorite O’Malley character. He is funny and lovable. He also have a knight in shining armor quality that makes him the ideal firefighter. He struggles with the fact that he cannot protect his youngest sister from the illness that is ravaging her body.

Fifth, The Healer is the story of Rachel O’Malley, a trauma psychologist for the Red Cross who helps people after major tragic events. She is called in to help with the victims of a recent flood in the Chicago area when a crime is discovered that connects her to the victim. She must figure out how she is connects as well as struggle with her new faith, her new relationship with Cole Parker and the realization that her youngest sister is dying. This book is the most emotional for me. Even after reading it for years, I still cry at the end.

Lastly, The Rescuer is the story of Stephan O’Malley, a paramedic and the only O’Malley who has accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. The story begins immediately after the events in The Healer. Stephen, unable to cope with the changes around him, takes a very long vacation. He is effectively running away. As he drives away from his home and family, he runs into an old friend, Meghan Delhart. Stephen is drawn to the small town life which Meghan has settled in. He buys a neighboring farm. They soon discover a pieces of stolen jewelry and they must unravel the mystery before someone comes looking for them. The main theme of this story is how someone keeps their faith in Christ amidst personal tragedy and crisis.

These books are filled with laughter, tears, and thought provoking questions that many Christians struggle with. Ms. Henderson offers a few answers to these questions but effectively each person must answer one question: will you put your faith in Jesus Christ? The O’Malley series is a great story of one family’s journey through crisis and faith. How blood doesn’t necessary create a strong bond of family. I also highly recommend Dee Henderson’s Danger in the Shadows which is a prequel to the series and it is a great mystery focusing on Dave’s sister, Sara.