Deadly Murmurs: A Novel

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Set amidst the beautiful scenery of Seattle and Puget Sound, Deadly Murmurs draws the reader into the life of a congregation in the mid 1990s with the undercurrents and history that all congregations have, but in this case with deadly impact. Lena Johansson, Director of Outreach at View Ridge Church in Seattle, hears things about the killing of an abortion nurse as she listens to people talk. Lena is tested mentally and physically as the truth about the murder becomes clear to her.

Deadly Murmurs is a sequel to Dead Sea: A Novel. One reviewer wrote about Dead Sea: "The masterful part of the book is the way in which Baab weaves in human emotion and reaction to a host of situations including conflict, confidentiality, love, and jealously." Another reviewer said, "The characters were compelling, the mystery was a page-turner," and another wrote, "The author's descriptions of Israel throughout the story put vivid pictures in my mind as I read." Lynne Baab brings these same skills to a Seattle location in Deadly Murmurs.

Dear Reader

When I wrote this book in the early 1990s, I was a candidate for ordination as a Presbyterian minister. I had done a couple of internships in congregations, and I really didn't know if I was cut out to be a minister or not. As I look back, I can see that I was processing some of my concerns as I wrote this book. I wasn't sure I could cope with the energy drain of paid church work or with the kinds of conflicts that people bring to church staff to deal with. (You can see my concerns about conflict in Dead Sea: A Novel as well as in Deadly Murmurs. And you may be interested to know that I was ordained in 1997 and served for seven years as an associate pastor in Seattle before going into teaching. The church I served was not in the View Ridge neighborhood! View Ridge Church is fictitious, as are all the people and situations in this novel.)

This book sat in storage for almost twenty years. When I dug it out last year to re-read it and consider publishing it, I felt like I was entering into a bit of a time tunnel. I hope you enjoyed that aspect of the novel. In the mid-1990s, Starbucks was only beginning to gain popularity. Contemporary worship was becoming more common in churches, but it was still controversial. Small groups in congregations weren't as common then as they are now, and some older congregation members were still quite suspicious of groups that met in people's homes. Some of the things Lena says or thinks about church ministry seem so obvious today. Outdated, even. But a few times I thought her words and thoughts are quite forward-thinking for 1995.

One of the things I found amusing in re-reading this book is the emphasis on listening. While I edited this book for publication in late 2012 and early 2013, I was also writing a non-fiction book on listening, to be published in 2014. I love knowing that I cared about listening twenty years ago, even though I am just now getting around to writing a non-fiction book about it.

Lena will be back in another novel, tentatively titled Death in Dunedin. I wrote that novel a few years ago, and I need to polish it a bit before publishing it. I hope to get it out in 2014. The action takes place some years after Deadly Murmurs. Lena has been ordained as a minister and is doing a church exchange in Dunedin, the city in New Zealand where I live. A dead body appears on the church grounds, and Lena gets mixed up in the cast of characters related to the dead man. I hope readers will enjoy an armchair trip to New Zealand.

Thank you for reading this book,
Lynne Baab
Dunedin, New Zealand


Three Brief Reviews »
What a Plot! by B. Gaede
Several years ago I read Lynne's Dead Sea novel and was delighted by her ear for a fast and intriguing plot, and she's done it again. The rhythm of the story sometimes gets bogged down in ruminations. But the mystery will keep pulling you along. The perfect read for a plane ride or a lazy afternoon.
Like Finding an Old Friend by Kim
This book was fun to read. Not only did I identify with the people, place and the protagonist, but Lynne has created a very fun mystery that provides a quick respite from the realities of life. If you haven't been to Seattle, you will get a great view of the whole city and surrounding area, while actually getting a feel for the group of people that are now in their late 50's.

Seattle Tale by Marcia
I am a faithful reader of Lynne Baab's non-fiction and was excited when she wrote her first fiction book, "Dead Sea." When she published "Deadly Murmurs" I was eager to read it.

Lena is a gifted listener and friend. All her life people struggling with life's issues have been drawn to her. This makes her position as Director of Outreach at a Seattle church a perfect fit. Lynne's done a good job of showing Lena's struggle to incorporate a healthy balance between her church work and her personal life. Then to ramp it up Lynne's included pro-life and pro-choice issues, a murder mystery and a little G-Rated romance.

While this book is not an "in your face" Christian book, it is very clear that Lena's relationship with Jesus is the driving force in her life. However, people who are not "religious" will also enjoy it.

I encourage you to read "Deadly Murmurs" as it's thoroughly enjoyable with lots of twists and turns that keep you thinking.