“Justice for All”
Author: Christy Kyser Truitt
Publisher: Dunham Books
Price: $14.99 (paper)
“Justice for All” is a legal thriller and a novel of young people overcoming personal and family difficulties and falling in love, but it is, throughout, a thoroughly wholesome Christian novel.
Truitt has been praised by best-selling author Patti Callahan Henry as “a strong new voice in Christian fiction.”
Novels in this genre, a burgeoning niche market in fact, are rarely reviewed by mainstream reviewers who are understandably timid about evaluating the elements of faith in the novel. These novels are usually sold in Christian bookstores and reviewed in Christian periodicals.
Leaving aside matters of faith, one can still discuss the novel in terms of story and characters, and “Justice” holds up pretty well.
The novel is set in a small Alabama town on the decline, a poor and rural place where many live in trailers, single and double wide. The place is called, with nice irony I think, Clear Point, Alabama.
K.D. Jennings lives in a trailer with her mom, Lydia, who is bi-polar and a handful. She has attempted suicide, sometimes doesn’t leave her darkened bedroom for days and, when manic, might order thousands of dollars worth of stuff from the Home Shopping Network, stuff which K. D. will have to spend hours returning.
K.D.’s dad couldn’t take the chaos anymore and has deserted them; K. D. cannot forgive him.
K.D. is extraordinarily bright, working her way through an undistinguished law school and clerking for Ezra Ingram, a struggling one-man firm. K.D. has beautiful, curly blonde hair, is a tad overweight and has low self-esteem which makes her feel nervous and unworthy when fellow law student and preppy demi-god Trip Folsom, complete with dimple, shows an interest. The two will court, but readers should know that although they are in their late twenties, physical intimacy will stop at hand holding and a few passionate kisses.
As with sex, so with overt violence: it’s off stage. Trip’s parents were killed earlier in a car wreck, for which he blames himself, so both youngsters have had hard times. They share the belief that enduring such pain would be impossible without faith, but neither here nor anywhere else does deity intrude. There are no miracles in this novel. Matters are worked out in this dimension of reality.
Within a few pages the major issue of the novel is announced. High school football star Bo Murdock, son of Buck and Shelly Anne Murdock, died in the ER nearly two years earlier after collapsing at practice on a cruelly hot Alabama day. As the back cover tells us, Trip’s uncle is the doctor being sued. K. D. certainly feels a conflict of interest, even if there isn’t one, legally speaking.
The Murdocks had only reluctantly decided to sue, engaging Ezra Ingram. Their reluctance is only increased when Shelly Anne’s Bible group discusses the question of Christian forgiveness. If the Murdocks truly forgive the coach, the doctor, the hospital, is it not hypocritical to pursue a lawsuit?
It is decided that worldly accountability and justice are not incompatible with Christian thought. K. D. concludes: “The free will of man mandated the existence of laws, and the subjectivity of a judge or jury mandated lawyers.” Good thing, otherwise there could be no courtroom climax.
K. D., a young woman of strong ethical feelings, will not settle for winning the suit; she thinks lawyering should be in the pursuit of justice for all and so there is, as one would expect, a happy and fair ending.
“Justice for All” is, as advertised, Christian storytelling, not for everyone but sure to satisfy its intended readers.
And, happily, K.D. likes lawyer jokes.
What do lawyers call a lawyer with an I.Q. of 70? A judge.
What should you do if you find yourself on a desert island with Hitler, Attila the Hun and a lawyer, and you have a gun with only two bullets? Shoot the lawyer twice.
This review was originally broadcast on Alabama Public Radio. Don Noble is host of the Alabama Public Television literary interview show “Bookmark” and the editor of “A State of Laughter: Comic Fiction from Alabama.”