Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Church Builder by A.L. Shields

A. L. Shields is the pseudonym for #1 New York Times best-selling author Stephen L. Carter, writing his first novel in the sweet spot for Christian readers: fast-paced, identifiable faith message, and strong characterizations. Author’s first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park, was the Today Show’s first book club pick in 2002.

The Church Builder is the first book in a series of thrillers written by A. L. Shields, the pseudonym of New York Times best-selling author of The Emperor of Ocean Park, Stephen L. Carter.

Bethany Barclay is running for her life. She’s a struggling attorney who’s been framed for the murder of a client. To clear her name, she must follow the trail left by her friend Annabelle to find out who killed her and why. Meanwhile, members of a centuries-old secret society known simply as The Garden track Bethany’s every move, aiding her when they can. Because The Garden knows that Bethany has been targeted by the ruthless Wilderness Society . . . and to advance their agenda in a centuries-old battle they’ll find out what she knows and then kill her too.

Each of the novels in this series revolves around the struggle between The Garden and The Wilderness. Working insidiously over the centuries, The Wilderness orchestrates “snakebites”—tiny scandals that cumulatively will bring an end to belief.

My review:
   I love to try out new authors, especially if the book is suspense. I had been looking at this book for quite a while, wanting to buy it, but not wanting to fork out the $26.99 for it. The one reason I don't like hardcover books - the price. I was still debating buying it when I discovered it on the list of books for review from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan, so I snagged it.

  This is an awesome book. It had a complicated plot, but not so complicated that its hard to keep up with or understand. The idea of two secret groups, one good, and one bad, trying to accomplish their goals was intriguing and added a lot to the plot. I liked the main character, and though the book is fictional, found the police and FBI actions and investigating believable and realistic.

  This is the first book in a series, and the only thing I didn't like about it, is it didn't really end. I was never much for continued stories, so I am already looking forward to the next book so I can find out what happens.

  If this book is any indication, the author isn't afraid to make his books Christian. Its not a "preachy" novel, but it is clearly Christian, and no bad language at all. Its a long book, coming in at 432 pages, but I did find it so hard to put down that I read it in one sitting, other than a few interruptions. I really enjoyed the book, and can't wait to read more from this author. His forage into Christian fiction is looking very promising.

About the author:

A. L. Shields is a pseudonym for Stephen L. Carter, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale, where he has taught for thirty years. He is also the author of seven acclaimed works of nonfiction and five bestselling novels. His first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park (2002), spent eleven weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. His most recent novel, The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, was published in July of 2012.
The Church Builder is available from Zondervan Publishing.
Thanks to Booksneeze for the review copy.