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Publishers Weekly, 2002-04-08 The third time's a charm for author and private attorney Whitlow, who has improved his inspirational legal thrillers with each outing. Though the pace in this suspenser begins on the leisurely side, Whitlow soon gathers steam, as a hate crime threatens members of an African-American congregation gathered for a baptismal service at Montgomery Creek in North Carolina. When the unappealing, tattooed adolescent Lester Garrison is arrested, attorney Scott Ellis takes his case, but finds himself increasingly put off by Lester's hatred of blacks. Even as new developments tempt Scott to believe his client is innocent, Lester's rage and bigotry show no sign of abating. Volunteering to coach a mock trial program at a local high school, Scott finds romance with a newly divorced teacher; he also discovers that one of her brilliant students has a dark side. The story's supernatural themes help build tension, as do plot twists and turns that keep the reader guessing. The CBA audience will appreciate the recurring motifs of the power of prayer and the social cost of absent parents and fragmented families. Whitlow's dry humor is appealing, and his character development is excellent he manages to make even Lester worthy of readers' sympathy. A Columbine-esque scene in the final pages comes dangerously close to clich, but Whitlow's careful, lucid prose keeps it both shocking and poignant. With this excellent novel, Whitlow makes a solid case for positioning himself as the John Grisham of the Christian market. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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