Sunday, February 25, 2007

Crime Scene Jerusalem book giveaway, review and interview with Alton Gansky

It's a new book giveaway this week!

Leave a comment on this post, and you may win a copy of Alton Gansky's new novel. I have two copies of the book up for grabs, so I will announce two lucky winners. Friday noon is the deadline. You do not want to miss this book! If you don't win, buy it. I guarantee you will like it.

Alton Gansky is the prolific author of almost 20 novels and several nonfiction works. He pastors as well as speaks at dozens of conferences every year. I’m pleased to present a short Q&A segment with him after my review below. Visit his website at for a full list of books and other info.

Wow, wow, and wow. Did I love Crime Scene Jerusalem or what? Wordsmith extraordinaire Alton Gansky has wrapped up suspense, biblical fiction and nonfiction into an enticing package.

Max Odom is the best crime scene investigator the San Diego PD has, especially for a young guy. But when revenge taints Max’s judgment and compromises a murder case, his boss forces him to take a leave of absence. Instead of leaving Max to sit around at home for two weeks, the boss assigns him to a speaking engagement with the Israeli police’s forensics department.

What starts as routine turns into a nightmare from which Max can’t escape. His would-be cab driver transforms into a guide through first century Jerusalem. Max is recruited to uncover evidence of a conspiracy. Has Max’s mind finally yielded to his life’s recent stress and broken off with reality? Or is he witnessing events that are all too real?

There aren't strong enough positive words I can say about Crime Scene Jerusalem. Few books I've read in the last year (and boy, have I read a lot) have kept me in that "suspension of disbelief" every reader should experience. I thought that after I saw "The Passion of the Christ" no descriptions of crucifixion could shock or affect me anymore. I was wrong. The biblical and historical aspects are presented expertly, and the protagonist’s plight wrenches one’s very being. A fantastic story line, explicit detail, realistic dialogue and a story that relentlessly pursues truth make this an absolute must-read.

1. How did you get the idea for Crime Scene Jerusalem?

Well, there’s a bit of a story to that. Normally, I come up with my own ideas. Unless I’m doing a work-for-hire project, I never use an idea that originates outside of my brain. It’s hard for a writer to emotionally invest in another person’s idea. In this case, however, Mike Nappa (who was an editor at Cook Communications) sent an e-mail with the idea for CSJ. He said he wasn’t sure how to make it work but thought that I might be able to pull it off. I told him it couldn’t be done. After some thought, and several grueling boxing rounds with my imagination, I pulled together a proposal which he took to committee. They liked it and sent a contract. That meant, I had to actually write the book.

Starting with Mike’s idea, I created a framework that fit my writing style. The book didn’t come easily, but the more I worked on it, the more I liked it. Max Odom, the protagonist, really grew on me. He’s tough but fractured, intelligent but slow about spiritual things.

The other problem I faced was how to make Jesus real to the contemporary person. The Bible shows us how Jesus related to 1st Century folk, but Max is a 21st Century man. I kept asking, “If Jesus walked the Earth today, how would he speak to a man like Max?"

2. Is combining fiction with nonfiction becoming a trend nowadays in the CBA?

I don’t know about it being a trend. There have been several books in which authors have tried to set the Christ story in modern times or send a modern man back to the days of Jesus, but I don’t know that it’s a trend. Of course, fiction is based in fact. At the very least, fictional characters act on a stage built of facts. It’s one of the odd things about novel writing. One has to be factually accurate while telling a made-up story.

3. You're a pastor and an author of nonfiction. Did it take much extra research into biblical history to complete this novel?

I’m no longer senior pastor. I write full time (a different form for a vow of poverty). I do serve as an associate at my old church. Yes, there was a great deal of research. Some biblical history is well known; some is disputed. For example, we don’t really know where the tomb of Christ was. Nor do we know exactly where He was crucified. There are a couple of sites that seem to fit, but we can’t know with certainty. Same with the Upper Room. We think we know where it was/is, but it’s impossible to be dogmatic. I learned a lot. I learned the kind of stuff one doesn’t learn in seminary.

4. You have several novel series. What are your plans for future novels as far as genre and subject matter?

Great question. I freely admit that my genres are all over the map. When asked what kind of fiction I write, I usually respond, “Suspense.” It’s a good catchall term. I’ve written and still write supernatural suspense, straight suspense, thrillers, and the like. I’ve also written suspense-mysteries. For me, it’s all about story. Genre descriptions are like fences in an open field. They keep things in. Crime Scene Jerusalem is unique. It’s mystery and a suspense book and biblical fiction and a crime novel. Maybe a few things more.

Later this year, I have Finder's Fee coming out, a suspense novel with tech overtones involving a Martha Stewart-like character. Zondervan is the publisher of that title as they are for a book due out late this year, ZERO-G, a techno-thriller. In addition, Broadman & Holman just released my nonfiction 40 Days, a book about the 12 resurrection appearances of Christ.

5. Is there anything further you'd like your readers to know?

Just that I appreciate them and the opportunity to talk about my work through this interview. Those interested can learn more about my work at


  1. This sounds like a great book! Thanks so much for all you do! :)

  2. CSJ sounds like a great book. I'd love to be entered in the contest to win a copy.

    The Q&A with Alton was excellent & informative Karri. Thanks for your posts!


  3. Count me in. I like Alton but my son (who is SO picky) loves him and he's running out of reading material. Help!!!