Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales, by Randy Singer
[Note: This book has been provided free of charge by Tyndale Press, who wants you to look at a lot of pages . This has not affected my review in any way.]
Randy Singer, who is apparently a well-known author of legal thrillers (I have not heard of him, though his writing compares favorably to the John Grisham novels I have read, being only a slight fan of the genre myself), has chosen for himself a difficult task: how to make an ex-jock for an SEC school (who I tend to loathe on principle) struggling to reclaim his life and honor after serving a well-earned stint in prison for a points shaving scandal who happens to choose his means of redemption by becoming a trial lawyer into an immensely sympathetic character at the core of a complicated plot full of twists and turns and puzzling and dangerous connections. The secret to the author’s success at this difficult challenge is partly related to his undeniable skill at plot and dialogue, but also to his understanding of at least some of the subtleties of grace and redemption that are at the core of this book.
As this book is a legal thriller, it would be unfair to give the twists and turns of the plot away, though some of them should be fairly visible to an astute reader of this book who knows that in a novel that there are few if any coincidences and who thinks accordingly a few steps ahead of the action on the pages. A novel like this could easily be made into a film, and at its core is a thoughtful examination of the principle: “Know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Many of the characters of this novel, all of whom are realistic and deeply flawed in their own ways, have to wrestle with the consequences not only of their sins, but of their coverups and the ways in which their sins lead them to be blackmailed or targeted by their enemies. Some of the characters choose truth and seek redemption and forgiveness and mercy, and other characters choose vengeance and find that their violence spreads far beyond their original intentions and beyond any just sense of proportion whatsoever.
Without giving away too much of the plot, this particular novel looks at how personal ambitions and failings combine to make for a complicated and deeply interconnected tale. This novelist appears deeply concerned with questions of trust, loyalty, truth, and love. At least a couple of characters note that two of the men in the story have women in their lives that are far beyond what they deserve (then again, what man would not think that about a beautiful young woman in love with them, if he was so fortunate). This novel examines the way in which secrets poison relationships and threaten lives and reputations. This novel has a great deal of violence, some of it described somewhat graphically, and also includes such unpleasant matters as adultery, cheating, government corruption, and a general lack of ethics, and some readers may be turned off by the novel’s combination of Christian ethics as well as worldly behavior.
For those readers who are not disturbed by a realistic but essentially mainstream Christian worldview, this novel has much to offer. It is a quick read for its more than 400 pages of text, has immensely sympathetic characters, as well as a thrilling plot. It shows someone who needed a fresh start and a second chance find what he was looking for, and show himself to be a person of moral fiber and integrity in difficult circumstances, helping to lead others to redemption through his example as he faces the demons of his past and also evil plots that he struggles to understand and overcome. Although most of us do not face the same sorts of hazards as the characters of this novel (though I suppose most of us face temptations of various kind, which this novel explores in detail), the honest struggling of these characters ought to be appealing to a wide variety of audiences, particularly those fascinated by legal drama.
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