(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

As the novel Final Witness opens, Dimitrov Chekhov is watching a movie at home when two men enter his house, tie him up, pour gasoline over him, and burn him to death. The reader eventually learns that the two men are hit men Grigory Viazmitin and Paul Dedenok and that they are working for crime lord Jaroslav Supevsky. The investigation, the arrests of Dedenok and Supevsky, Supevsky’s trial, and his attempts to manipulate the American legal system drive the action.

Rachel Ybarra is a Christian living with her grandmother when she interviews for a paralegal position at the U.S. district attorney’s office in Los Angeles. The person interviewing her is the head of the criminal division, Alan Lakewood, and she gets the job. On Ybarra’s first day, she attends a meeting in which Jeff Bunnell, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), briefs those attending the meeting on organized crime activities in the Los Angeles area. Later, Bunnell and his partner Sam Zagorsky arrest Dedenok. When Dedenok implicates Supevsky, Lakewood selects Ybarra as his assistant for Supevsky’s trial. Supevsky retains Jessica Osborn Holt as defense attorney. She will use all legal means to prevent his conviction. Supevsky will use all the illegal ones.

Bunnell and Zagorsky are guarding Dedenok, whom they are hiding in a hotel room. They play Yahtzee while Dedenok watches television. While Bunnell is out buying their lunch, Zagorsky is knocked unconscious and Dedenok dies from an apparent suicide. Bunnell is blamed and removed from the case.

His main witness dead, Lakewood sends Ybarra to New York to meet another potential witness, Deanna Natale. Forty years old, Natale is living with her mother and is in a methadone program to treat her heroin addiction. She has knowledge of some of Supevsky’s illegal activities and overheard him give the order to kill Chekhov. When they meet, Ybarra prays with her and persuades her to consider becoming a Christian. Natale eventually agrees to testify.

Ybarra meets Fred Stefanos, a...

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(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

“Author James Scott Bell Visits APU.” Account of the author’s visit to Azusa Pacific University, including a report on a discussion of how Christians can use fiction writing to spread God’s word.

Bell, James Scott. “Author Chat: James Scott Bell.” Interview with the author that includes discussion of how he writes.

Bell, James Scott. “The Cross and the Pen: A Greater Glory.” http://www.crosswalk .net/fun/books/1199514.html. Interview with the author on the role of Christianity in his fiction.

Bell, James Scott. “The Suspense Never Rests.” The author’s official Web site.

Bell, James Scott. Write Great Fiction: Plot and Structure. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 2004. This nonfiction book by the author of Final Witness is sprinkled with information about the author’s life and lends insight into his method of writing his novels.

Bell, James Scott, and Tracie Peterson. City of Angels. Bloomington, Minn.: Bethany House, 2001. The first book in Bell’s Kit Shannon series, about a female Christian attorney living around 1900.