Thinking Out Loud

July 20, 2015

It’s Summer: You’re Entitled to Some Diversions

Filed under: books, Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:03 am

For the most part, the Christian blogosphere takes itself all too seriously. When was the last time you saw anyone review a fiction title? And no, we don’t count the bloggers who trashed The Shack without ever reading it.

I try to read at least one fiction title in the summer. If I can’t actually go anywhere in the warm months, I can at least enjoy some small diversions or distractions.

The Deposit SlipThis year it was The Deposit Slip by Todd M. Johnson, which released back in 2012. I’d seen this one in the bookstore and it struck me that it was my type of storyline, and definitely male-reader-compatible in a field that attracts a mostly female demographic. I also didn’t want to start a series, so a stand-alone title was needed.*

The book is legal mystery that begins with a young woman who discovers a deposit receipt from a local bank when emptying out her late father’s safety deposit box. The amount is a cool $10.3 million. She hires a lawyer and from the beginning — this isn’t really a spoiler — you know the bank is as guilty as heck and covering the truth; but the remaining pages are needed to get everyone to what one expects to be a dramatic, final courtroom showdown.

The case has a variety of twists and turns, with a very fast-paced script based on the author’s 30 years in legal practice. Though this isn’t my usual genre, I was able to track most of the legalese.

The faith-focus in this novel is basically non-existent. Given its publication under the Bethany House imprint, a division of Baker Books, I checked a variety of other reviews to make sure I wasn’t missing something.

Otherwise, five stars.

*The following year the author released Critical Reaction which features a different cast of characters and this time around, a female lawyer. I enjoyed Deposit Slip so much that the 2nd book is currently in my pending stack of books.

September 9, 2011

Finding a Good Chair to Curl up with a Good Book

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:35 am

My acquaintance with Christian fiction is growing but still extremely limited.  The few books I have read — and greatly enjoyed — begin with a plot contrivance; where the author says, ‘Let’s hypothesize X, and then see where that takes us.’

In his third novel, The Chair, author James Rubart asks us to accept the premise that since Jesus spent his pre-ministry years in carpentry, he might have made objects — or at least one — which with great care could survive until the present age.  Doesn’t the Bible say something like “he makes all things well?” (Mark 7:37) Rubart introduces his hypothesis on the very first page of the very first chapter, in case you missed it in the title. Good to get it out of the way, I suppose.

From there, the novel snakes through a series of twists and turns not unlike his two previous titles Rooms and The Book of Days. Somewhere, in James Rubart’s house, there must be a room where he spreads out giant sheets of flip-chart paper and figures out how to get his characters from beginning to end. There would have to be.

And Rubart does a lot of figuring out. You can really sense the research that goes into his books and the cultural references that give the story a vivid, three-dimensional texture. And yes, this is very much fiction for guys, but with enough relational dynamics and rich characters that women would enjoy it as well.

Some of the plot coincidences are serendipitous, I’m sure. How does Corin, the lead character get to do all the things he does and still hold down a job? Easy, put him in a retail sector where opening the store at noon is fully acceptable. Little touches like help The Chair to move from start to finish without credibility gaps.

So there’s a chair, and it appears to have supernatural qualities. Healing properties. And there are people who would like to own it. ‘Nuff said. This is a spoiler-free review.

I picked up yesterday on page 180 and read another 200 pages in an almost single sitting. “I will stop at this chapter;” I said, and then kept on going. And going and going. The book is published by a Christian publisher — B&H Fiction — but isn’t preachy. Honestly, if I were Rubart, I’d be negotiating subsidiary rights in the broader, ABA book market. Or film market. But despite its non-preachy tone, The Chair does ask the right question: What is true healing?

If someday you find yourself with a supernatural chair with healing properties, be sure to be careful what kind of healing you really need to ask for. Or expect.

Five stars out of five for each of plot, characters, and realism.

A copy of  The Chair was provided to Thinking Out Loud by B&H Fiction’s Canadian distributor, David C. Cook Canada.

Here’s a review of The Book of Days

Create a free website or blog at