At a time when the conflict between Middle Eastern religious zealots who have called those outside their religion “The Great Satan” and have supported those who have made it their mission to destroy as much of the infidel world as possible, it seems unthinkable that a Christian attorney/part-time pastor would agree to defend a member of that faith. Yet the imam of one of Virginia's largest mosques is able to engage the services of Alexander Madison. Alex is an experienced personal injury civil attorney who is not too eager to take on the case of Khalid Mobassar, who has been arrested for the honor killing of a young Muslim wife who became a Christian. Thus the scene is set for this intricately plotted novel.
While Alex is debating whether or not to take this case that he believes is out of his realm of expertise, his partner, Shannon Reese, is already digging into research for the defense. Alex is an attorney who got his credentials by “reading the law” and taking the bar exam --- a little-known practice that is allowed in Virginia and dates back to the Founding Fathers. He is honest and straightforward, following in the footsteps of his grandfather and living by the 10 “commandments” that he wrote out on legal paper and posted around the office. One of them is “Good lawyers don't advertise.” Torn between wanting to serve his client, believing his innocence and keeping his church leadership appeased, Alex chooses to defend the imam.
FATAL CONVICTIONS is not only an exciting legal thriller with international overtones, but also the story of a family in conflict over the tenets of their religion. The strict adherence to the Qur'an that raises martyrdom to the level of sainthood and the moderate interpretation of reformers like Khalid Mobassar often causes mother and father to impart opposing values to their children. For example, the known assassin, Hassan Ibn Talib, was taught by his mother: “No matter what you have done wrong in this life, you will be forgiven with the first drop of your blood that is spilt. With the second drop, you may redeem seventy family members who would have gone to hell.”
In addition to the action and rich cultural information, Singer manages to weave into the tale a love story. Realistic characters, many of whom readers will be able to identify with, carry the action to its exciting conclusion. Astute mystery fans may be able to foresee some of the outcomes, but there are enough surprises to keep you turning pages until the very end.
Singer is the author of nine previous novels that have won him awards and high praise from top reviewers. He has been compared to John Grisham and hailed for his fast-paced legal thrillers. Perhaps it will be FATAL CONVICTIONS that makes his name as easily recognized. This is my first Randy Singer book, but it won't be my last. Now I can't wait to read all his bestsellers.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on November 13, 2011