(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Directed Verdict won a Christy Award for best suspense story in 2002, launching the writing career of attorney Randy Singer, who manages in this novel and subsequent ones to combine his legal skills with his deep religious commitment. In Directed Verdict, he created a story that pits the forces of evangelical Christianity against both radical Islam and the modern, secular world. Though at some points he resorted to stereotypes to accentuate these contrasts, Singer managed to construct a story that is both a courtroom drama and an international political thriller.

Set in Saudi Arabia and in the Tidewater region of Virginia, Directed Verdict is about an American Christian missionary’s attempt to restore her late husband’s reputation and obtain justice for his murder at the hands of religious fanatics. As the novel opens, Sarah and Charles Reed, American missionaries working in Saudi Arabia, are attacked by the Muttawa, the country’s religious police, in an effort to break up their tiny church. Muttawa leader Ahmed Aberijan, zealous in enforcing laws prohibiting the practice of religions other than Islam in his country, directs his men to torture the Reeds to get them to reveal the names of church members. To discredit the couple further, he has them both injected with cocaine. Charles, already suffering from a weak heart, dies hours later. Sarah is deported.

After returning to her home in Norfolk, Virginia, Sarah determines to clear her husband’s name. Acting on the suggestion of the pastor of her church, she seeks legal advice from Brad Carson, an ambitious, worldly attorney who had defended the Reeds’ pastor against charges of trespass and assault stemming from a protest in front of an abortion clinic. Carson has built a highly successful practice working alone, aided only by his domineering administrative assistant Bella Harper. Though not religious himself, Carson believes international laws have been violated and that Sarah is entitled to compensation from the Saudi government. He agrees to file a civil suit on her behalf in the United States federal court. To...

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(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Herald, Diana Tixier, and Wayne A. Wiegand, eds. Genreflecting: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests. 6th ed. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2006. Traces the historical development of Christian literature, focusing on its adoption of various genres of mainstream fiction in the twentieth century. Cites Directed Verdict as an example of the Christian thriller.

Mort, John. Christian Fiction: A Guide to the Genre. Greenwood Village, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 2002. Contains a chapter explaining how Christian literature differs from mainstream fiction; a separate chapter discusses the contemporary Christian thriller, the genre in which Singer works.

Singer, Randy. The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ. Colorado Springs, Colo.: WaterBrook Press, 2006. This work combines a fictionalized account of the trail of Jesus and a nonfictional examination of the interactions between Jesus and his critics as noted in the Gospels, plus personal anecdotes from Singer’s life.

White, Terry, ed. Justice Denoted: The Legal Thriller in American, British, and Continental Courtroom Literature. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2003. Annotated bibliography of works in the genre; an introductory essay describes the conventions of legal thrillers and provides background for examining Singer’s work.

Zaleski, Jeff. Review of Directed Verdict. Publishers Weekly 294, no. 36 (September 9, 2002): 41. Brief summary of the story line and major themes of the novel.