Sex. Mystery. Intrigue. When fiction includes topic like sex, you just know it’s going to be good. Presumed Guilty by author James Scott Bell and published by Zondervan tracks the fall of a minister, Ron Hamilton, as his good works switch from glorifying God to glorifying himself. His own self of self-esteem and his own pride keep him from running from sexual temptation, and the resulting fallout from his sin. It’s not quite that simple, though – the girl turns up dead and the minister is arrested. The novel is an exploration in character wrapped in a suspenseful thriller. How does Ron confess his sin and handle his fall from a position of authority? How does his relationship with his wife, Dallas, change? Can she forgive, or does she dump him? His overachieving daughter, his war-shocked rebellious son, and a host of other characters all are impacted from this one beginning sin.
I thought the characters were all believeable, the plot believeable, and the writing excellent. If I had to have one complaint, though, is that by the end of the book it turns out nearly all of the characters are bad people one way or another or had a bad past. With the possible exception of his daughter, maybe. I really wanted to identify better with one of the characters but found it hard to empathize. Surely not *everyone* makes choices this bad consistently, do they?
Good Christian fiction dealing with sexual temptation and pride, it’s sometimes predicatble but a very enjoyable read. Recommended strongly.