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Try Dying (Ty Buchanan Series, Book 1) Hardcover – October 24, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Former trial lawyer Bell (No Legal Grounds) starts this engaging whodunit series kickoff by plunging successful young L.A. attorney Ty Buchanan into deep mourning for his fiancée, Jacqueline Dwyer. Apparently, wife-murderer Ernesto Bonilla shot himself on a highway overpass and his body landed on Dwyer's car, killing her. Buchanan, in the grip of intense grief, is further burdened when a scruffy man accosts him at the funeral and demands money in exchange for the truth: that Dwyer survived Bonilla's fall, only to be murdered. When the police dismiss this explanation, Buchanan risks his career and his life to get to the bottom of the mystery, crossing paths with a variety of powerful movers and shakers and ending up a murder suspect himself. Readers will enjoy Bell's talent for description and character development, even if the overall setup of a white-collar worker scouring the mean streets is familiar terrain. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Attorney Ty Buchanan is prepping a potentially career-making case involving repressed memories (he's defending a doctor who, after publicly criticizing a repressed-memory expert, is now being sued for defamation). When his fiancée is killed in what appears to be a freakish coincidence, Ty is shattered. And when he learns that Jacqueline might have been murdered, he risks his career and his life to find the truth. Bell, an attorney turned prolific novelist, has created in Buchanan an appealing and series-worthy protagonist (he's already working on the second Buchanan novel), and the tale equally balances action and drama, motion and emotion. Readers who pride themselves on figuring out the answers before an author reveals them are in for a surprise, too: Bell is very good at keeping secrets. Fans of thrillers with lawyers as their central characters—Lescroart and Margolin, especially—will welcome this new addition to their must-read lists. Pitt, David

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Center Street; First Edition edition (October 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599956845
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599956848
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #923,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For notifications and deals about JSB's new releases, sign up for his occasional update at (the signup box is on the left side of the screen). Your mail box will never be overstuffed nor will your address be shared with anyone else.

JAMES SCOTT BELL is a bestselling and award winning suspense writer, and one of the top writing coaches in the country. He writes in both the traditional and indie publishing realms. Writing as K. Bennett, he is the author of the Mallory Caine, Zombie-at-Law series, which begins with PAY ME IN FLESH. In 2012 he became the first writer to have a self published work nominated for the prestigious International Thriller Writers Award (for the novella ONE MORE LIE). He was the fiction columnist for Writer's Digest magazine and has written four popular books for the Writers Digest line: Plot & Structure, Revision & Self-Editing, The Art of War for Writers and Conflict & Suspense. Jim taught novel writing at Pepperdine University and continues to teach at numerous writers conferences in the United States, Canada, London, Australia, and New Zealand. He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where he studied writing with Raymond Carver. He lives and writes in L.A. He blogs weekly at Kill Zone --

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By C.J. Darlington on November 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ty Buchanan's beloved fiancé has just died in a freak Hollywood style accident, instantly spinning his world off its axis. Maybe someday he'll recover. Maybe someday he'll make sense of his emotions and get on with his life without Jacquelyn. Only someday doesn't come, and Ty watches himself become a man he never dreamed he'd be. An attorney sworn to uphold the law, he's soon breaking it to find out the truth about Jacquelyn's death. Was it really accidental?

In the vein of Brandt Dodson's Colton Parker series, Try Dying is a no-nonsense crime novel with a legal bent rather than a private investigator or cop angle. Cinematic in feel due to Bell's expert use of snappy dialogue, there's also a nice peppering of movie references, no doubt coming straight from Bell's own love of classic films. Even Ty Buchanan is a namesake derived from characters in two movies, Tyler Durden in "Fight Club" (1999) and Tom Buchanan in "Buchanan Rides Alone" (1958).

In a recent interview Bell reveals: "I haven't been happy about some of the trends in contemporary, secular suspense. And I think the audience out there is getting tired of the gratuitous elements. I believe you can write page-turning suspense without that, like some of the great crime novels of the 40s and 50s. I wanted to offer that, because I see the need for it."

That's one of the great things about Try Dying. Life is painted in all its edgy glory, and the underbelly of LA is as much a character as Ty. Yet through it all Bell manages to show us this world without rolling us through the gutter. He's accomplished exactly what he set out to accomplish--to craft an action-laced thriller devoid of smut. Many an author has decided you can't portray life as it is without swearing, gore, and sex, but Jim proves you can.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bill Garrison VINE VOICE on December 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
James Scott Bell's TRY DYING features young, hot-shot lawyer Ty Buchannon forced into a life or death struggle after his fiance tragically dies in a traffic accident. Or was it an accident? A gang-banger shoots his girlfriend then goes to a highway overpass where he kills himself. His dead body falls on an oncoming car, killing Ty's fiance. Or did it kill her? Maybe she was alive and then killed after the body fell into her car.

At his fiance's funeral, a homeless man confronts Ty to tell him his girlfiend might have been murdered. Then the homeless man knocks him out and robs him. Now Ty is obssessed with finding the truth. He starts out doing little things like contacting the police who investigated the accident and the attractive reporter who was on the scene. Ty begins to find answers and they lead him to Rudy Barocos, a self-help guru that specializes in showing former gangsters the straight and narrow. Ty is also working a high profile case of repressed memories and child abuse. Grief from his fiance's death has overwhelmed him and Ty is shocked at his own behavior and how far he will go to learn the truth.

This novel marks a departure for Bell, who has made a name for himself as a writer of legal inspirational thrillers. With TRY DYING, Bell has switched genres and publishers. Through Centerstreet publishing, he is writing a mainstream suspense novel that is gritty and supsensful but doesn't have all the bad language or extreme violence found in so many other novels today. This is not a Christian, or inspirational novel, but two of its supporting characters are a priest and a nun. You will find more spirituality in this novel than you will in most all other suspense novels.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Young on October 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Snap, crackle and pop. These are the sounds of James Scott Bell's latest novel, Try Dying. Tightly written prose wrapped around a to-die-for plot that has the reader turning pages faster than a race horse heading for the finish line. And never ever figure you know where the story is headed. The drama has more twists and turns than a roller coaster ride.

Bell's characacters jump off the pages with depth, humor and humanness--an attorney drawn to investigate a freak death like a moth drawn to a flame, a cloistered nun with a mean jump shot, and a priest who has learned to forgive from the heart. These characters come alive as the story unfolds in this fast-paced legal thriller.

It opens with a freak accident. A man falls from an overpass and slams into traffic below, killing school teacher Jacqueline Dwyer, protagonist Ty Buchanan's fiancée. The accident rips Buchanan from his comfortable world of civil litigation and dumps him onto the mean streets of Los Angeles as he searches for answers that may not exist. Buchanan's survival is brought into question as he sinks deeper and deeper into this black whole of mystery, murder and betrayal. The question becomes whether he will find the answer before death finds him. "I should have been more deferential, if I wanted to keep all my teeth. But there was river of ice in me all of a sudden. Like I'd used up all my fear." Buchanan pulls the reader across this precarious divide separating love and hate, and eventually life and death, where knowing the answer become more important than life itself.

It is James Scott Bell at his best.
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