Tag Archives: Ty Buchanan

‘Try Fear,’ by James Scott Bell

I fired up the car and found a Denny’s on the way back to the freeway. I went to their bathroom and freshened up, as they say, and came out feeling like three bucks.

James Scott Bell wraps up his very satisfying Ty Buchanan legal thriller trilogy with Try Fear. Our hero, a very good lawyer who has dropped out of the big time, is called on to defend Carl Richess, a 6’ 5”, 250 pound alcoholic who was arrested just before Christmas for drunk driving and being a public nuisance after fleeing the police dressed only in a g-string and a Santa hat. Amazingly, Ty gets him off, hoping the man will get some help. Carl’s mother and brother are grateful.

Then there’s a murder in the family, and Ty is called to action again in the defense. But there’s more to the case than meets the eye. And the trail will lead very high in the city, indeed.

Also, somebody has been cyber-stalking Ty’s volunteer assistant, Sister Mary Veritas. Ty calls in favors to try to hunt the stalker down, but it’s kind of awkward because they’re trying to distance from one another. Sister Mary hasn’t taken her solemn vows yet, but she feels that Ty is an impediment to her calling.

It all turns out in a very warm and satisfying way, at least for me (a certain segment of Christian readers may disagree).

The Ty Buchanan trilogy is an extremely rewarding reading experience. Besides the clever mysteries, there’s a rich meta-narrative involving Ty’s spiritual journey. This is not a conversion story, but it is a pilgrimage story. And quite a good one.

Mature themes. No objectionable language.

‘Try Darkness,’ by James Scott Bell

We drank. Whatever it was, it had a gentle kick, like an eight-year-old girl soccer player.

When I reviewed Try Dying, the first novel in James Scott Bell’s Ty Buchanan trilogy of legal thrillers, I said I found it a little pallid compared to his Mike Romeo books. That was a hasty judgment. This series, I now realize, is wonderful in its own way.

Ty Buchanan, as you may recall, was a high-powered lawyer with a big Los Angeles firm. His life got turned upside down when his fiancée was killed and he himself was arrested and charged with murder. He managed to prove his innocence and identify the real killers with the help of unlikely allies – a priest and a nun, from a nearby Catholic retreat center.

Try Darkness finds Ty living a strange, transitional new life, inhabiting a little trailer at the retreat center. He’s given up his old job, and for the time being is providing legal help to the poor, operating from a table at a coffee shop. Father Bob and Sister Mary Veritas are still his best friends – except that his feelings for Sister Mary are causing both of them considerable discomfort.

Father Bob brings Ty a potential client, a woman who’s living with her daughter, Kylie, at a transient hotel. The hotel makes it a practice to evict all tenants after 28 days, which prevents being reclassified as a residential hotel, making them subject to housing regulations. The practice is illegal, but the law is rarely enforced. Ty agrees to help her sue them.

But suddenly she’s found murdered, leaving little Kylie behind. Ty, leery of handing her over to Child Protective Services, takes her to the retreat center, where the nuns welcome her immediately (except for Sister Hildegarde, the unsympathetic mother superior, whom Ty, Father Bob and Sister Mary attempt to keep in the dark as much as possible).

Ty’s investigation – as you’d expect – will bring him up against powerful and dangerous people.

What was particularly fine about Try Darkness was that it had a lot of heart. Ty is working his way through grief, and his relations with Kylie – and with Sister Mary – are opening his mind and heart to a whole new way of life.

Highly recommended. The books should be read in order. No objectionable language.

‘Try Dying,’ by James Scott Bell

He had a salt-and-pepper ponytail and L.A. eyes—trying to look cool and detached and hungry for money.

When you think about it, the thriller genre is almost ideal for Christian storytelling. A good thriller takes its hero and strips him of every comfort and illusion, forcing him to look at the plain truth unblinking.

Kind of like repentance.

James Scott Bell’s thriller, Try Dying, does a very good job of doing just that thing.

Ty Buchanan is a hotshot young L.A. lawyer. He works for a prestigious firm, owns a nice home, drives a nice car. He’s involved in a high-profile case, a lawsuit against a celebrity psychologist famous for helping people recover “repressed memories.” But best of all, he’s blissfully in love with schoolteacher Jacqueline Dwyer, to whom he’ll be married in a few days.

Then Jacqueline dies in a freak accident on the freeway.

After the funeral, he’s approached by a guy who looks homeless. He says he has information to sell him. That Jacqueline wasn’t killed in the accident. “They” killed her, he says.

When Ty presses him for more information. The man attacks him and runs off.

Ty can’t let this go. He starts hunting for the man, and trying to figure out why anyone would murder Jacqueline. Clues lead him to investigate a trendy self-help cult, one that has thugs on its payroll. But Ty won’t give up – even when he finds himself accused of murder and locked up.

This first novel in the Ty Buchanan series wasn’t as much fun as Bell’s Mike Romeo books, in my opinion, but I found it engaging and compelling. Prose, plotting, and characters were excellent. Ty’s existential crisis allows him to think about some of the the most important questions.

Highly recommended. No offensive language.