Self Incrimination by Randy Singer (A Guest Review)

Guest Review

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.

Publisher’s Summary

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.

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A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow AND Another Giveaway!!!!!

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Information the giveaway for the book, A Time to Stand, is below the reviews.

My Review

A Time to Stand focuses on the turmoil in small town Campbellton, Georgia, after a white police officer shoots an unarmed black teenager. The plot could very easily have been ripped from the headlines of today’s newspaper.

The story centers around several characters. Adisa Johnson is a young, extremely successful African-American lawyer practicing in Atlanta. Luke Nelson, a young, white police officer, recently left the Atlanta PD for a quieter life with his family – only to become embroiled in the biggest fight of his life when he shoots unarmed Deshaun Hamlin, a point guard for the local high school. Deshaun, the victim, lies in a coma after the shooting. Also, there are several other characters that range in importance; my favorite is Adisa’s elderly Aunt Josie. Josie’s wisdom, love of God and spunkiness were a refreshing touch in such a politically charged context.

I appreciated how Whitlow showed the racial tension and prejudices on both sides in an even-handed manner, not showing prejudgment, bias or one-sidedness. As a reader you could feel the tension, frustration and anger felt by both sides and could understand the reasons.

I normally enjoy Whitlow’s books. His knowledge of law and human nature is fascinating. I don’t know if it was the POV (Point of View) or if it was in a more narrative style, but there seemed to be a lack of feelings, profundity and passion to the novel. Thus, it was hard for me to get into his latest book, A Time to Stand. Nevertheless, because the storyline happens to be very intriguing, I stuck with it. I’m glad I did because the basic premise was interesting and timely. However, early in the book, I guessed the eventual outcome (perhaps that’s another reason it wasn’t as good to me as some of his other books).

I received this book from NetGalley and Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

In a small Georgia town where racial tensions run high and lives are at stake, can one lawyer stand up for justice against the tide of prejudice on every side?

Adisa Johnson, a young African-American attorney, is living her dream of practicing law with a prestigious firm in downtown Atlanta. Then a split-second mistake changes the course of her career.

Left with no other options, Adisa returns to her hometown where a few days earlier a white police officer shot an unarmed black teen who is now lying comatose in the hospital.

Adisa is itching to jump into the fight as a special prosecutor, but feels pulled to do what she considers unthinkable—defend the officer.

As the court case unfolds, everyone in the small community must confront their own prejudices. Caught in the middle, Adisa also tries to chart her way along a path complicated by her budding relationship with a charismatic young preacher who leads the local movement demanding the police officer answer for his crime.

This highly relevant and gripping novel challenges us to ask what it means to forgive while seeking justice and to pursue reconciliation while loving others as ourselves.

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

***********GIVEAWAY***********

I have a copy of The Two of Us to giveaway!

Leave a comment to enter the drawing.

Drawing will be open October 11th to October 18th.

One name will be randomly drawn as winner.

Check back on Thursday, October 19th, to see if you won!

GOOD LUCK!

 This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, void where prohibited by law and you must be at least 18 to enter. The odds of winning depend on the number of comments received.

Blessings to everyone~

WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT