Ron’s #26: The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney by Randy Singer

This is the first book on the list this year that I discovered by accident. In my usual buying and selling of used books, I found this paperback and threw it in my selling pile. When I was looking for a novel to read on the plane ride back to the States, I thought of this and put it in my carry-on. It was a good read to pass the time.

The premise is quite interesting: a billionaire is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and has a limited time left. As he contemplates the meaning of his life’s endeavourers, he creates a reality show called Faith on Trial where representatives of the world’s religions complete to show the world which faith system is the most true. It’s Survivor meets The 700 Club, I guess.

Each of the contestants—a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, and an atheist—are lawyers and complete in courtroom-based situations challenging the other’s faith. These legal scenes are a mini-apologetic for the Christian faith, and are worth reading.

Aside from the worldview discussions, the contestants discover that there is a plot to kill one of the players. Oliver Finney, a Virginia judge who hacks and coughs more than any character I’ve met in a book, tries to find out more by sending coded exchanges to his law clerk Nikki Moreno. Nikki races to discover the truth of what is happening on the show to save the judge’s life.

I enjoyed this Christian version of a John Grisham story, and I loved the discussions of faith. I thought that Singer was especially fair to the Muslim and Hindu characters. The Swami was perhaps the most likeable guy of the entire book. I was disappointed in how the plot unfolded and the big revelations. The ending negates some of the mysteries in the story, making them meaningless.

Randy Singer published this novel at the same time as his non-fiction, The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ, a lawyer’s look at the court case of Jesus. In Oliver Finney, the judge uses that book (which he authored in the fictional version under the pseudonym “Randy Singer”) to communicate with Nikki. It’s a bit of a gimmick, but I thought it was clever.

This is a quick and worthwhile read for those who enjoy legal thrillers. And reality shows.

About Ron 173 Articles
I teach English and government in Okinawa, Japan. I love reading theology and fiction, and helps keep me accountable. Reading with three kids under 5 is a bit of a challenge, but I keep trying to find ways to read more. My favorites writers are C. S. Lewis, Flannery O’ Connor, and Raymond Carver.

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