You know how much I love a good suspense read. Nowadays, I’m always looking for the books and authors that can make my internal editor turn off and let me lose myself in the story.
The Justice Game
By Randy Singer
Bursting into a television station, the gun-toting target of an investigative report kills a co-anchor. When the gun manufacturer is sued, defense attorney Kelly Starling and prosecutor Jason Noble battle each other in court—but the real conflict lies with unseen forces bent on destroying them both. (The verdict was rendered by an actual reader poll!) 400 pages, softcover from Tyndale.
- In your novels, you often address a particular topic. How did you decide to address gun control in The Justice Game?
I like to write about moral issues that have no easy answer. On the issue of gun control, there are some pretty strong emotions on both sides. And people have typically trenched in—spouting off rehearsed arguments rather than trying to understand each other. But when you frame the issue in the context of a story, you can sometimes by-pass the automatic intellectual defenses and speak straight to the heart. I tried to create compelling characters on both sides of the story to help readers sort through the types of honest arguments that people of good faith make and then decide for themselves.
But on a larger scale, the issue of gun control is not really the focus of The Justice Game. The more important issues raised are these: (1) In America, can you “game” the criminal justice system? I have proposed a hypothetical system in The Justice Game that could do just that. (2) Can the main characters in the novel escape their past sins (and secrets) or will they let themselves remain captive to them? I once heard Rick Warren say that courage comes when you have nothing left to hide. That’s a concept I explore in The Justice Game.
- As an attorney, you served as lead counsel in a school shooting case in Virginia. What happened and what impact did the case have?
On December 16, 1988, a fifteen-year-old student named Nicholas Elliot took a Cobray semiautomatic handgun to Atlantic Shores Christian School and opened fire. He shot and killed a teacher named Karen Farley and wounded an assistant principal, then burst into a trailer where a Bible class was meeting. When he attempted to open fire on the students huddled in the back corner of the trailer, the gun jammed. The Bible teacher, Hutch Matteson, tackled Elliot and prevented the kind of tragedy that hit Columbine High School in Colorado several years later.
Atlantic Shores was the school where my wife taught. It was the school my kids attended (though they were not there that day).
And when I learned that Elliot had purchased the gun illegally from a gun store in Isle of Wight County through a transaction referred to as a “straw purchase transaction,” I represented the family of Karen Farley in an unprecedented lawsuit against the gun store.
The verdict shocked everyone.
In terms of the impact this real case had on my writing—it made the writing of the book both harder and easier. Harder because we lost a friend in the Atlantic Shores shooting and it was difficult to relive the emotions of the shooting and subsequent case. Easier because authors should write what they know best. I didn’t have to imagine what the feelings of the attorneys would be as they tried this case of national importance on an issue with such raw emotions. I had walked in those shoes. From that perspective, this book might be the most realistic book I’ve written.
- You had your readers determine the verdict in the court case at the center of the book. Why did you decide to go this route?
Two reasons. First, I thought it would be fun to create an interactive experience for readers. We put together a fake newscast with snippets of the closing arguments—just enough to inform readers about the case and let them vote. Second, I was trying to be balanced on this issue of gun control. What better way to demonstrate balance than to let the readers decide the verdict? Oh yeah, and third (if it’s not too late to add a third), the book ends up being about much more than just the verdict in the gun case. I knew that the ending would work out fine whichever way the verdict came out.