Select a few unique and colorful characters – perhaps a young illegal immigrant; a poor, idealistic, inexperienced lawyer; a flashy, worldly (and very experienced) legal assistant; a liberal, street-preaching law school prof; a childless doctor who's dying of AIDS; and a radical feminist. Sprinkle in a few sticky socio-political/moral issues – maybe cloning, abortion and stem-cell research. Stir all ingredients together well, and you've got the explosive mix for "Irreparable Harm," a masterful suspense tale from novelist Randy Singer.

It is Singer's second novel (WaterBrook, 2003), and it measures up in every respect to the pace and the intriguing themes of "Directed Verdict," his debut novel which won a Christy Award for best Christian suspense novel of 2002. It's no surprise that "Irreparable Harm" is in the running for a 2003 Christy, to be announced in June.

"I'm an unlikely guy to write a novel," said Singer in an exclusive interview. "I'll tell you that, right off the bat. I took the minimum number of English and journalism classes. I probably never read a novel I wasn't required to read until I was 30." Ironically, he has now turned out three captivating legal thrillers compared by some to John Grisham's work.

In "Irreparable Harm," Dr. Nathan Brown and his wife, Cameron, are unable to have children, so they locate a surrogate mother – young Maryna Sareth, the illegal immigrant. Maryna is implanted with one of eight fertilized eggs which were actually cloned from originals.

During her pregnancy, Maryna's doctor determines that her baby has Down's Syndrome, and the Browns insist that she have an abortion. They want to start all over so they can have a normal and "healthy" baby. Mitchell Taylor, third-year student at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, becomes the underdog's champion when the Browns take the case to court. It's a story that grabs the reader early on and doesn't let go.

Fast action, multiple themes intricately woven together, characters who are easy to love or to loathe, suspenseful plot twists – it's got it all. On the big screen it would be a real nail-biter.

"This isn't really science fiction," says Singer. "I tried to take the cloning issue as it is now. The technology is doable today. I deal with where we are now on this [issue], as opposed to wild dreams about what might happen in the future."

Singer spent a number of years as a litigation attorney with a large law firm, and is now vice president of the North American Mission Board (Southern Baptist Convention). His experience gives him insight for the moral and social issues which are the centerpiece of his novels.

Grisham sometimes includes characters who demonstrate and/or talk about their Christian faith. For Singer, Christian characters are a given. He says a novel is a 400-page tract, though he is quick to insist that it must be couched in a credible, engaging and satisfying story line.

When he started reading a lot of fiction, the Christian novel genre was in its infancy. Singer says he feels as if he were "tutored" by reading the best-selling secular novelists – Grisham (not surprising) and Richard North Patterson to name a couple. "I think that helped me," Singer says, "because my goal is to write so that an unchurched person will be comfortable reading my book, and then be confronted with the truth in a natural story line."

With skill and subtlety, Singer accomplishes both goals in "Irreparable Harm." The gospel is an integral and very natural part of the story, and the story – well, it's no less than a first-rate page-turner. Singer's hope is that his novels will challenge unbelievers to consider Christ, and move believers to consider critical issues in our culture.

"I put my poor little lawyer Mitch Taylor, fresh out of law school, in the middle of the messiest bunch of ethical dilemmas you could ever imagine," says Singer. "Hopefully the reader will walk through that and discover a biblical worldview on some critical issues that we're facing right now."

Singer's third title, "Dying Declaration," features characters embroiled in the family issues of corporal punishment, and faith versus medical treatment for a couple's infant son. WaterBrook will release it in May.


© 2004 AgapePress.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.