(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

A Capital Offense opens when bookstore owner Jack Brandon, after attending a meeting of the city council regarding gambling casinos, stops at his church and then drives his pickup to the Katy Trail, where he meets his death. Initially, the evidence (a suicide note and a mysterious twenty-five-thousand-dollar loan) points to suicide, but his wife, Connie Brandon, a devout Christian, believes that he was killed by the casino people. Other evidence surfaces: Jack died of a drug overdose, and a woman claimed that she and Jack were having an affair.

However, Connie, who has almost finished her law degree, acts as a detective: She spots a problem with the suicide note (which uncharacteristically refers to their daughter as Kate, not Katie) and points out that Jack’s office, which he never locked, was locked with the door’s deadbolt, but there were no fingerprints. With the help of a policeman friend of Jack, Tick Garner, and his wife, Tess, Connie perseveres. Police detective Luke Tyler is sympathetic but, because of Jack’s financial problems, drops the investigation. He also keeps an influential person informed about the progress of the case. Connie finds a canceled check for ten thousand dollars made out to a Reed Morrison and a one-million-dollar life insurance policy, and one of the store employees shows her drugs that were in the store. Meanwhile, Johnson Mack, Jefferson City’s mayor, offers her an exorbitant amount of money for the bookstore so that there will be a place for conventions as well as a casino.

Determined to get at the truth, Connie drives to St. Louis, where the remaining fifteen thousand dollars was deposited, and withdraws the money. She realizes that the bank’s video cameras must have recorded Jack depositing the money there, so she goes to Wilt Carver, attorney general and longtime friend, for help. Wilt gets the video but first shows it to Luke, who then shows it to Connie. The video shows Jack and Sandra Lumsford kissing; Lumsford is the woman who claimed to be having an affair with Jack, but she has vanished. Furious with Jack...

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A Capital Offense Bibliography

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Hudak, Melissa. Review of A Capital Offense. Library Journal 123, no. 6 (April 1, 1998): 78. A sympathetic review of Parker’s novel, noting the book’s Christian emphasis.

Nelson, Marcia Z. “Publishing Faith Fiction: Reeling in the Readers.” Publishers Weekly 251 (August 4, 2004): S6-S8. Examines the booming business in Christian novels and discusses the book buyers’ preferences and the reasons for the growth of the genre.

Parker, Gary E. Dark Road to Daylight. Nashville, Tenn.: T. Nelson, 1997. Another Christian novel by Parker, this one featuring Burke Anderson, a former pastor who is forced to act as a detective to solve a murder case.