Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Latest From James Scott Bell: Try Fear
Many of my readers are already familiar with the work of best-selling author James Scott Bell. He has established himself as one of the leading authors of Christian fiction. He is an excellent teacher and tireless mentor. His books, Plot & Structure and Revision & Self-Editing, deserve a spot on any writer’s bookshelf.
His latest book, Try Fear, will be released in July. Try Fear is the third in a series of books that could be classed as “mainstream” fiction. Does this mean that the novels, published by Center Street, are full of profanity and sex? Far from it. They are books you wouldn’t mind your mother reading. The protagonist, Ty Buchanan, is a lawyer who is reeling from the death of his fiancée, climbing back after being charged with a murder (of which he was acquitted), and struggling to find something to which he can hold—whether it’s a belief in God remains to be seen. The book is full of suspense, the characters are well-drawn, and the plot contains more twists and turns than the Texas Twister at Six Flags. And, so far as I’m concerned, with these books, Bell can be compared with such masters as Raymond Chandler.
Often the second and third books in a series are marred by a dependence on the reader being familiar with the earlier books. As was the case with the second book in the series, Try Darkness, that’s not true of Try Fear. Bell has done a great job of making each book stand on its own merit, giving us just enough back story to keep us in the picture without spoiling our enjoyment of the previous books when we get around to them.
In his classic, Plot and Structure, Bell lets us in on his secret for writing fiction: the LOCK system. That’s Lead (a main character with whom we can identify), Objective (a goal that must be met), Conflict (the tension that keeps us going), and Knockout Ending (that makes the reader take a deep breath and wish there were more). In Try Fear, he has certainly adhered to this template, and done a great job.
I don’t like reviews that tell too much about the plot. I prefer to read the book jacket, consider what I know about the author, and take it from there. I’ll just tease you with the opening lines of Try Fear. If this doesn’t make you pre-order it, nothing will.
“The cops nabbed Santa Claus at the corner of Hollywood and Gower. He was driving a silver Camaro and wearing a purple G-string and a red Santa hat. And nothing else on that warm, December night.”
If you like legal fiction with a twist, you’ll enjoy all three books in the series: Try Dying, Try Darkness, and Try Fear.