DEADLOCK

James Scott Bell, Author
James Scott Bell, Author . Zondervan $12.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-310-24388-5
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In this legal thriller for the evangelical Christian market, former trial lawyer– turned–novelist Bell imagines what would happen if a prochoice, atheistic Supreme Court Justice suddenly became a born-again believer. A near brush with death and the sudden loss of her mother leaves 52-year-old liberal Justice Millicent "Millie" Hollander pondering eternity and considering faith. When she becomes chief justice, Millie discovers that the belief she has embraced excites a firestorm of confusion and anger from her former supporters. A case involving a separation of religion and state opens up a huge rift in the Court, and the media soon turns the whole affair into a three-ring circus. Alarmed about Millie's potentially conservative positions, the president and stereotypically hard-drinking, womanizing Sen. Sam Levering plot her impeachment and possibly her death. A weak subplot concerns a teen's abortion and subsequent lawsuit against the clinic where it was performed, which rather unconvincingly intersects with Millie's story toward the close of the novel. Portions of the plot aren't completely fresh—Angela Elwell Hunt's recent The Justice ably tackled the same general topic for the same audience. But Bell's take on the idea of a Supreme Court justice making a religious about-face offers some unique spins, including a curveball plot development that will blindside most readers. Laudably, most characters are multidimensional, and even the senator's evil troubleshooter, Anne Deveraux, becomes worthy of pity. Evangelical prolife fiction aficionados should appreciate this addition to the CBA thriller genre. (Oct.)

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