Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Presumed Guilty" by James Scott Bell

Prominent pastor arrested for murder of porn star!

It sounds like a headline in a cheesy tabloid. Author James Scott Bell uses it as the basic premise of “Presumed Guilty.”

In this tense mystery, mega-church pastor Ron Hamilton is accused of the murder and the media is conducting a trial by public opinion. When it seems everyone has lost confidence in the clergyman’s innocence, only his wife is willing to stand with him.
She is a fighter, willing to pursue answers, no matter where they lead. But can she hope to win this battle? When even she begins to succumb to the pain of the accusations and circumstances, Ron seems to be lost.

The relationships in this story are deeply built and deeply tested. The people are imperfect. The issue of trust is explored from many sides and the facets held up for inspection like a diamond in a jeweler’s loupe.

How can a book by an award-winning Christian writer rival a detective story by any successful secular writer? With a well thought out story told beautifully by a master of the legal thriller. Investigative details, legal points and human nature are nicely balanced in this easy-to-read yet gripping adventure.

Bell has a gift for the English language which is well-demonstrated in “Presumed Guilty.” He shows us the pastor’s situation, the wife’s pain, the dark secrets threatening to tear their comfortable world apart. If you thought “seedy” met “suburbia” only in “Desperate Housewives,” think again. This is a deep, rich tapestry of layers, and each is peeled back in turn.

If you like an excellent mystery, with realistic characters rather than caricatures, you’ll enjoy “Presumed Guilty.” If stories of relationships are more your style, the web spun by Bell will suit you nicely. Fans of the well-written word will find cause for applause here as well. There is enough procedural information to suit fans of police stories, enough law to please the most die-hard “Perry Mason” fan.

"Presumed Guilty" is published by Zondervan and is available at most bookstores. For more about James Scott Bell, visit his website at

Copyright 2007 Mary Beth Magee

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