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The Church Builder: A Novel (The Church…
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The Church Builder: A Novel (The Church Builder Series)

by A.L. Shields

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Had all the elements to be a good book -- secret organizations and a religious artifact being sought after by both sides. Really poorly written though. I could go on about how lacking the plot is in everybody seemingly knowing what the other side is doing; it's just magical that everybody has such perfect knowledge. The author also went to inordinate measures to make sure time and again that we're aware that his characters are black. The only redeeming quality was occasional religious reference. ( )
  skraft001 | Jul 23, 2016 |
Title: The Church Builder
Author: A.L. Shields
Pages: 420
Year: 2013
Publisher: Zondervan
Bethany Barclay is a lone lawyer, practicing in a small town in Virginia. She has some family she sees fairly regularly and her mentor, a former judge, with whom she also stays in touch with regularly. Her best friend, Annabelle Seaver, is to put it nicely…flaky. Bethany really has no other social contacts. Annabelle enters her life sporadically on Annabelle’s time table, which is never predictable. Then Annabelle winds up dead. At first, Annabelle’s death is written off by authorities as an accident, but Bethany soon discovers that is not true. As Bethany returns home from Annabelle’s funeral, she faces a most unpleasant discovery. She is forced to join the nonpublicized battle of believers versus nonbelievers in God.
Bethany talks with her friend, Judge Harrigan, about Annabelle’s death. The judge, unbeknownst to Bethany, subtlety manipulates Bethany into retracing Annabelle’s steps before her death to discover what or why she might have known that could have caused her death. Bethany starts searching and becomes the target of two specific organizations, the Wilderness and the Garden, or are there others after her too? These people play for keeps and are not above using deception, manipulation, threats and for some even death. Bethany is also on the run from law enforcement as she is being framed for murder and terrorist acts. She must use all her wits to stay out of everyone’s grasp to find answers, but who can she really trust? There is so much more at stake that Bethany is unaware of, but begins to understand. She is strong, courageous, resourceful and tenacious.
This is a great suspense story with an intricate plot and curves thrown in that readers won’t see coming. The story begins slowly, but please keep reading because it is truly worth reading. After about the first third of the book, I couldn’t read fast enough. All thoughts of household chores were put on hold to continue this exciting adventure. I wouldn’t want the rest of this story to go untold. I liked how the Scriptures Bethany memorized as a child came to mind when she needed them most and comforted her. The ending of this book leaves off on a cliffhanger, so there has got to be a second book in the works. At least I sure hope so! I can’t wait for the next book!!
My rating is 5 stars.
Note: I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book. The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility. Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ . Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457 ( )
  lcjohnson1988 | Nov 18, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0310332117, Hardcover)

From A. L. Shields---pseudonym for New York Times best-selling author Stephen L. Carter---comes a thrilling new series about a secret war between the forces of faith and those who would destroy it. In the first volume, small-town lawyer Bethany Barclay, struggling to piece together the final months of her best friend's life, becomes the pawn of both sides. One group focused on destroying all religion. One group struggling to preserve the church. One woman searching for the truth. The evidence is against her. The FBI is right behind her. A malevolent killer has her in his sights. And as Bethany digs deeper into a complex web of lies surrounding her ties to the murder of her client's son, she remains unaware of the real battle in front of her.She thinks her friend Annabelle was killed because of what she learned about a rumored first-century Christian artifact. What Bethany doesn't know is that Annabelle died in the crossfire between two shadowy organizations that have been doing battle for centuries. The Wilderness, wealthy and vast, is dedicated to the destruction of all religious faith. The Garden, a group of seven members led by a man they call the Builder, carries on a grim, secret struggle to protect the church.Only a few in the Garden realize that there's more at stake than the artifact the Wilderness is seeking. But as Bethany discovers that she's a tiny part of a larger war, can she trust the Builder to save her? Or will he sacrifice her for the sake of the cause? 'The Church Builder is a roller-coaster ride of plot twists and surprises, written with awe-inspiring skill.' ---Terri Blackstock, New York Times Best-selling author of Intervention and Truth Stained Lies 'Outstanding. Riveting and disturbing in equal measure. The Church Builder illuminates the battle between church and those that wish to crush it with gripping force. Highly recommended. ---Davis Bunn, best-selling author of The Book of Hours 'Don't miss this provocative tale by a craftsman at the top of his game. Besides being riveted and entertained, you will be challenged by The Church Builder to think in new ways.' ---Jerry B. Jenkins, novelist and biographer. Owner, Christian Writers Guild. 'Serpents. Sin . . . and Redemption. The Church Builder has it all. I love this book. Bethany is my kind of superhero: smart, compassionate, and oh so wise.' ---Lis Wiehl, New York Times best-selling author and FOX News Legal Analyst

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:53 -0400)

"For two months, small-town lawyer Bethany Barclay has been mourning the hit-and-run death of her enigmatic best friend, Annabelle Seaver. Then the son of her wealthiest client is found murdered in her kitchen. When Bethany herself becomes the leading suspect, she must flee both the authorities and a mysterious killer. But there is more at stake than she knows: Bethany is caught in the web of a shadowy organization determined to destroy Christianity"--Dust jacket back.… (more)

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