The Church Builder, by A. L. Shields (Zondervan, 2013)
One day, Bethany Barclay’s biggest worry is keeping her small-town law practice afloat. The next, there’s a dead body in her home and she’s on the run from the FBI. Who framed her, and why? Is it connected to the recent hit and run death of her best friend, Annabelle?
Following clues, barely keeping ahead of the FBI, Bethany realizes that somebody wants her to finish what Annabelle started. But what is that? And for whom?
Bethany is a pawn in a centuries-old power struggle between two secret groups: the Garden and the Wilderness. The Garden guards people’s religious freedom, Christian and other. The Wilderness wants a world based on reason, and will undermine faith any way they can.
The Church Builder is a fast-paced conspiracy-and-chase novel. Bethany retraces Annabelle’s steps, Agent Carraway tries to catch her, and the shadowy members and minions of both Garden and Wilderness plot and manipulate.
Members of the Garden go by titles, and “The Church Builder” is the name of the Garden leader. The book’s cover image, a snake wrapped around a pole, is the Wilderness symbol.
I enjoyed the novel, and will definitely be on the lookout for the next one in The Church Builder series.
A. L. Shields is the pen name of Yale professor and bestselling mainstream author Stephen L. Carter. He talks about this new series, his choice to use a pen name, etc in this YouTube video.
[A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.]