Monday, December 31, 2007

Presumed Guilty

by James Scott Bell
Author Website:

Available in paperback or hardcover (large print). Zondervan, 2006; 316 pages.

I tend to read by author. I find someone I like and read everything they've got before moving on to another author. (I'm sure you've noticed my affinity for Francine Rivers' books.) I met James Scott Bell at a writers conference last May. Shortly thereafter I grabbed this book. Since then I've been working through his titles. I'm looking forward to his newest title, The Whole Truth, which is being released February 2008. If you're looking for an author comparison, this guys books are akin to John Grisham but with a Christian foundation.

A successful pastor of a thriving mega-church has written a best-selling anti-pornography book. Life is good with politician's bending their ears and a second book deal in the works. Then the unthinkable happens: he is arrested for the murder of a porn star. The authorities, even his own lawyer, see it as an open and shut case. His wife refuses to believe he did it. She embarks on her own search for the truth.

The legal suspense is magnified by subplots of the wife's less-than-stellar past, a son struggling with repercussions of serving in the Iraq war, and the lives of those in a safe home for domestic abuse victims.

I enjoyed this book enough to seek more of the author's work. The fast pace and unpredictable nature definitely kept my interest. The character development, though, fell short of my expectations. I think it is difficult for author's to create thoroughly believable characters of the opposite sex. Here we have a male author with a female lead. Because men (generally speaking) are more interested in the plot and action, this female lead seemed plastic. She was shockingly unemotional. Her life was publically torn apart by secrets of her past and present. The drama played out before an enormous church, the media, the nation -- and yet she was fully composed, almost unaffected. This lack of character development kept me, as the reader detached from the story. I was watching from a distance rather than involved.

Final Thoughts: An easy read with a good plot. A nice distraction, but not a curl up on the sofa and lose yourself type of book.

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