Randy Singer has written one of the best Christian thrillers I’ve ever read. It’s refreshing to find a thrilling legal plot that doesn’t hinge on a vial of toxin or some kind of odd medical experimentation. Instead, bounty hunter Clarke Shealy is on the trail of a Chinese mathematician’s algorithm that could change the very nature of the Internet --- and his wife’s fate is hanging in the balance.
And that’s just the first 100 pages. After setting up this conflict, readers are introduced to a quirky team of law students who are working at a legal aid clinic in the Southeast and become involved with a man named “David Hoffman,” who is in the FBI’s Witness Protection Program.
Even if Singer were not a strong writer (which he is), this book would be fascinating because he’s not only a veteran trial lawyer but also an attorney who has worked for the Witness Protection Program --- experience that he uses in graceful, small doses as he entwines his characters further and further in a web of legal, government deceit. Since the algorithm in question could not only ruin Internet communication but also disarm national security, the stakes are high and Singer keeps the tension there as well.
The fascinating part about FALSE WITNESS is how the author weaves in the moral and ethical shifting sands his characters and our society stand on as they try to negotiate a threat that doesn’t come from nuclear weapons or suicide bombers. Singer is one of a breed of Christian fiction writers who believes that less is more when it comes to faith; he imbues faith where it needs to be and leaves the rest to God and the reader.
Thankfully (and I think Singer would find this as funny as I do), he doesn’t leave the novel-writing up to God, the way some authors seem to do. Singer knows when to keep a paragraph brief or when to add more description. He doesn’t waste time on backstories of characters when they are on the scene for a specific reason; likewise, when we need to truly understand motivation, we get it.
Understanding the relationships that build up between the law students as they race to understand their mysterious witness is so engrossing that readers will wonder if Singer is planning a sequel with this intrepid trio of intellectual warriors.
Reviewed by Bethanne Kelly Patrick on November 13, 2011