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Book Review

Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl and April Henry has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the second book in the “Triple Threat” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Portland talk show host Jim Fate has made plenty of enemies over the years. The dogmatic conservative shares his views on a syndicated talk show called “The Hand of Fate.” He takes calls from listeners and even presents a Nut of the Day award to the craziest, most insulting emailer.

His co-host, Victoria Hanawa, knows she was hired to pull in the young, female and Asian demographics. Jim’s co-workers and interns describe him as a womanizer who is looking out only for himself. Fate’s former friend, Congressman Glover, has been the target of his recent radio attacks. News reporter Cassidy Shaw knows Jim as a former lover who recently tried to convince her to join him as the “Hand of Fate” co-host.

Cassidy is one of three women who jokingly call themselves the Triple Threat Club. Cassidy met Allison Pierce and Nicole (Nic) Hedges when the three were in high school. While they weren’t close at the time, their shared interest in crime bonded them after a class reunion.

Allison is a federal prosecutor. She’s a happily married, devout Christian who is expecting her first child. Nic, a special agent with the FBI, is a tough, reserved woman with a 10-year-old daughter. The three often meet for drinks or dessert to discuss the latest crime news.

Jim Fate is alone in the sound booth on a commercial break when he opens a piece of mail. Gas begins to pour from the envelope, and Fate can’t catch his breath. He recalls a recent attack in Seattle where someone used deadly sarin gas and killed many people. Even as he feels himself dying, he turns on the mike and tells those outside the tightly sealed booth to leave the building immediately.

Fate stays in the booth, hoping to spare the others’ lives. As word of a possible sarin attack reaches people in the building and in downtown Portland, chaos ensues. People flee from tall buildings and trample each other in stairwells. Never one to pass up a story, Cassidy reports from the street. Allison rescues a toddler, Estella, who is alone on the sidewalk. Nic helps an old woman when she can’t exit her building. She calls her co-worker Leif, with whom she’s been on a few dates. He rushes to their rescue.

Toxicology reports later reveal that Fate was not killed by sarin. The toxic substance in his mail was something else. Allison surrenders Estella to child protective services because she can’t locate her mother. Cassidy, who still has a key to Fate’s apartment, sneaks in to delete the “Hand of Fate” demo she made with Jim.

While there, she pockets a bottle of sleeping pills from his medicine cabinet. He had introduced her to the prescription, and it had done wonders for her insomnia. In the days that follow, Cassidy becomes dependent on the pills and begins getting several prescriptions at a time from different doctors.

Allison and Nic interview Fate’s co-workers and other persons of interest, such as Congressman Glover. They also speak to the family of a young mother who killed herself after Fate harshly rebuked her on air.

Nic struggles to decide whether she’s ready to share her past and have a relationship with Leif. Allison continues to prepare for her baby. Cassidy, who was a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her last boyfriend, shares her story on air. While many viewers write supportive notes, others criticize and insult her. Cassidy continues to spiral downward with her sleeping pill addiction. When Nic and Allison realize what’s happening, they make her talk to her primary doctor and start attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

The women learn Congressman Glover had supported funding for small smoke-filled grenades similar to the one that killed Fate. Glover becomes their prime suspect. The congressman holds a press conference. Live on the air, he puts a gun in his mouth and shoots himself. Despite this apparent admission of guilt, Allison and Nic still feel they’re missing something in the Fate investigation.

When Allison begins bleeding, her husband takes her to the doctor. He is unable to find the baby’s heartbeat. Allison refuses a D&C and has a miscarriage naturally. She wrestles with God but ultimately finds peace in His Word.

Nic decides to tell Leif about her past. She reveals she was drugged and raped by a man she’d just met. She later learned she was pregnant. Her religious parents encouraged her to keep the baby, but Nic grew angry with God because He allowed this kind of tragedy. Nevertheless, she tells Leif that her daughter, Makayla, is the light of her life. Some days later, Makayla’s newly paroled father shows up at Nic’s house and holds Nic and Makayla at gunpoint. He doesn’t realize Nic is now an agent and that he’s outmatched by her skills in hand-to-hand combat. She kicks away the gun and quickly disables the man.

Cassidy discovers old news footage of Jim Fate’s intern, Willow Klonsky. The well-dressed, sophisticated college girl they’d previously questioned looks different in the video. She was protesting with an environmental group that wanted more government restrictions on food. Jim Fate had often been critical of such groups on his show.

Cassidy goes to talk to Willow, and Willow pulls a gun on the reporter. She tells Cassidy her sister died because she ate some tainted food and their mother committed suicide a year later. Willow had decided to rid the world of Jim Fate because of his views. She forces Cassidy to call the TV station and ensure they are broadcasting a live audio feed. Willow then voices her views on air about the dangers within the food industry. She starts to leave with Cassidy as her hostage. Nic and the police capture her.

The Triple Threat Club meets at a restaurant. Nic finally tells Cassidy and Allison about Makayla’s father. Allison says she’s still trying to help Estella’s family. The girl’s mother is an illegal immigrant, and Allison explains she believes God wants immigrants aided, not deported. They toast to Jim Fate.

Christian Beliefs

Allison is a strong Christian who has devotional time and talks to God during challenging moments. Her husband is also a believer who prays and attends church with her. After Allison’s miscarriage, their pastor visits to offer words of comfort. Bible verses are sometimes quoted in the text.

Referring to Estella’s mom, Allison says Jesus calls His people to feed the hungry, not deport them. She briefly discusses her faith with nonbelievers Nic and Cassidy. An old woman Nic helps during the Sarin scare prays and talks about her faith to the skeptical Nic.

Other Belief Systems

Cassidy is frequently trying out different New Age practices. Nic is angry with God for allowing her rape and pregnancy. She is skeptical of both Cassidy’s belief in cosmic powers and Allison’s belief in God.

Authority Roles



Jim Fate dies of poisoned gas. Congressman Glover puts a gun in his mouth and shoots himself at a press conference. Blood pours from his nose and the exit wound at the top of his head.

Makayla’s father holds Makayla and Nic at gunpoint. Nic disarms him. Willow holds a gun on Cassidy and tries to take her as a hostage.


Jim Fate has a reputation for being a flirt and dating lots of women. Cassidy is one of his many conquests. Police find condoms in Jim’s apartment.

Nic recalls being drugged and raped by two men who sometimes videotaped their victims. Nic became pregnant as a result and felt like people thought she was a slut. Fate kisses Cassidy and tries to convince her to sleep with him.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Domestic Violence: Cassidy shares how she was a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. Investigators discover that Jim Fate’s father was an abusive alcoholic.

Substance abuse: Cassidy becomes addicted to sleeping pills, which she uses along with alcohol. Her friends help her own up to her problem and join Narcotics Anonymous.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

18 and up


Lis Wiehl and April Henry






Record Label



Thomas Nelson Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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