Friday, January 10, 2014

Dying Declaration

The second novel that I have read by author Randy Singer, entitled Dying Declaration, is another entry in the same genre as Directed Verdict. A legal thriller in the Christian fiction category. However, I think that this book was a more complete and carefully crafted story. It begins with a family of religious fundamentalists, Thomas and Theresa Hammonds, and their three young children. Poor, minimally educated, but loving and principled. They are also strict fundamentalists who are trying to follow their beliefs as their 2 year old son battles for his life with an acute case of appendicitis. Little Joshie is rushed to the hospital at the last minute, but ends up dying after the emergency room doctor battles with his pride in the decision of whether to treat the patient or transfer him to a nearby children's hospital. The doctor's indecision plays a role in the death of the child.

Shortly after Joshie dies, the Hammonds' are arrested for the negligent homicide of their child and their other two young children are marked for foster care until the trial. However, Nikki Moreno, a special children's advocate for the court agrees to care for the children. Something that she senses in the parents, some deep loving bond, affects her heart. Before she can convince herself that she should just mind her own business, she seeks out a law professor with a passion for God to represent the Hammonds. Charles Arnold is not a practicing lawyer and at first tells Nikki that he is not interested. However, after some reflection of why he got into law in the first place, to help those who would get turned out by the system, he eventually agrees.

The courtroom drama is thick, as Charles battles with an aggressive commonwealth attorney whose overzealous prosecution strategy is driven by her career advancement plans. A shark who will manipulate the evidence and the witnesses until everything sings her tune. The main story arc of the Hammonds trial is linked to the affair of the commonwealth attorney and the doctor who treated Joshie and the growing bond of friendship and love between Charles and Nikki. Ultimately we see how people can change and transform, even those whose lives are deeply stained. A tale that weighs judgment versus mercy. An enjoyable read.