When Robbie drafted me for another guest review, I was deep in the Randy Singer whodunit, Self Incrimination. Randy Singer wrote The Advocate, my favorite Christian legal fiction thriller. Scratch the modifiers. My favorite book, ever.
Robbie and I have a running conversation about Christian fiction that contains “un-Christian” elements of the culture in which Christianity is necessarily immersed – scenes of explicit sexual immorality or profane language, for instance. Some writers insert “edgy” content into their Christian message to attract readers who might not otherwise read a book that contains the gospel. Robbie thinks immoral content dressed up as Christian fiction is flying under a false flag. Personally, harsh words do not phase me. But then, I had a job as a teen-ager shoveling horse manure. When the wind shifted, flecks of urine-soaked sawdust would blow across my face, and I really didn’t mind that either.
Self Incrimination is edgy and gritty. It deals with child abuse, child sexual assault, rape and cold-blooded murder. Nothing in it seems “sanitized.” Yet, upon reflection, I could not recall a single profanity, obscenity, or concession to contemporary sexual mores. I told Robbie she would love this book, so she invited me to review it.
Leslie Connors is a first-year attorney, working in partnership with the lawyer she is about to marry. As the novel opens, a wealthy socialite walks into the office to hire Leslie’s partner (who happens to be a famous trial advocate). The woman’s sixteen-year-old daughter is charged with murdering her Dad. The sixteen-year-old, however, hires Leslie. In Leslie’s first trial, she has a client she believes in, but cannot believe. Corrupt and incorruptible opponents are arrayed against her, and Leslie can hardly decide which are worse, or more formidable. During it all, she is planning a wedding, but a bombshell explodes in its path and shakes Leslie’s confident, plucky life to its core.
While Leslie reels, a former client, the wife of a martyred missionary, hands her a copy of C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Leslie has a logical mind, like Lewis, her friend believes. Unable to sleep, Leslie reads. Passages haunt her. Lewis describes sin as Jesus did in the Golden Rule – treating others in a way we ourselves would not want to be treated. He describes sins as events that will inexorably overtake each one of us, next month, next week, or “perhaps this very day.”
That phrase echoes in Leslie’s mind as she remembers harboring health secrets from Brad, her fiancé. She remembers cringing when her client’s autistic brother spit on her. We readers encounter these incidents as the story unfolds. They gave me slight pause as I read them. Then I thought I might have done the very same things. Of course. Most of us would have. Because “All have sinned…” Randy Singer has trapped us, and C. S. Lewis’ words convict us when they convict Leslie. “…perhaps this very day.”
The book’s courtroom climax is a stunner, if you are like me and happily let an author lead you where he will. I predict that when Robbie reads Self Incrimination, she will solve the mystery early on. However, solving the mystery was not Randy Singer’s raison d’etre for writing the book, nor ours for reading it. God uses the tragedy that unfolds in this story to lift the scales from a skeptic’s eyes. A skeptic we are rooting for.
You will want to read Self Incrimination if you won’t mind buying or borrowing the rest of Randy Singer’s dozen-odd novels, because you certainly will.
Tara Bannister’s abusive stepfather finally pushed her too far. To save herself she had to kill him. Or did she? Tara’s confession doesn’t add up, and as her self-defense claim crumbles, attorney Leslie Connors must overcome more than first-trial jitters to mount a credible defense. Leslie must save Tara’s life—against her client’s will. In the midst of this taxing case, Leslie’s wedding plans to law partner Brad Carson are interrupted by a devastating diagnosis. Does she dare tell Brad? Before the final gavel falls, Leslie must confront the truth about herself and her mysterious client, or the darkness of the past will swallow them both.