Southern Gold

James Alan Vitti, Author Thomas Nelson Publishers $12.99 (328p) ISBN 978-0-7852-7781-1
This unusual first novel has already been called a G-rated thriller, but it would be more accurate to come out and identify it as a (perhaps the first) Christian thriller. No sex here, minimal violence, and the underlying message throughout is that things will work out for anyone who embraces the Lord. Gavin Duke is the marketing director of a major Atlanta bank and the point man for a massive and highly successful advertising campaign built around a hidden million-dollar gold jackpot that is promised to the first person who can find it using clues the bank provides its depositors. Supposedly, only Duke, an arrogant and self-centered sort with little regard for those around him, knows where the cash is located, but his bitter and frustrated assistant has discovered the secret and plans to betray her boss. When Duke is kidnapped by a desperate pair of long-out-of-work locals, he is finally forced to face up to who he is and what he is becoming. The heavy Christian message in the story is represented by Torrie Wilson, a new business reporter who covers Duke and is romantically drawn to him. She is introduced while flying to her new job and trying to decide whether to proselytize her seatmate. Those who are already persuaded may find this just fine, but it's hard to imagine that most secular readers won't be squirming in their seats. Few of the characters are more than caricatures (or icons), and, while Vitti tells his story smoothly enough, there are way too many plot threads left dangling, not to mention an epilogue that comes totally out of the blue. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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