Maximum Security. By Steven Linscott with Randall Frame. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1994. 216 pp. Cloth, $12.99.
We don’t often associate murder cases with grace, but Maximum Security, a well-named (spiritual meaning) and well-written true story, shows the triumph of grace in the life of a young Bible school student and his wife when he was wrongfully accused, convicted, and imprisoned for a brutal murder.
This notorious case, which was featured on such network TV shows as “20-20,” concerns Steven Linscott, who had a most disturbing dream of a murder with a blunt instrument. That very night, two doors away, a pretty brunette nursing student in Oak Park, Illinois, was bludgeoned to death. Linscott told his dream to the police, and though many facets of the dream didn’t match the evidence in the case, the Oak Park police started the machinery for what was a virtual “frameup” of the would-be missionary candidate. The fact that the victim belonged to a Hindu-type cult and the accused was an active evangelical may have been significant.
The stress of the book is not revenge or even the murder. Rather, it shows how God—using a super-supportive wife, Lois, their kids, the prayers and help of churches, friends, and thousands perhaps millions after their TV exposure of praying Christians, and Steve’s submission to His will even when his life was threatened in prison—provided maximum security.
After 12 years of litigation, the scientific evidence of DNA, superior legal work, and God’s answer to myriads of petitions for this devout young family, Steve was completely cleared of any charges.
Near the end of his account Steve writes “Good news—in fact, the very best news—is ours in Christ. At times in my prison experience that news gave rise to joy more exuberant than can be contained by any prison walls. Because of that, no one need feel sorry for me. I certainly do not feel sorry for myself. Instead, my heart goes out to those who have not discovered this freedom, the security of the power and love found in Jesus Christ. Without that, nothing else matters” (p. 206).
This is a tremendously upbeat book against a very tough and dark background. It’s a good picture of God’s grace at work in the nitty-gritty of a Christian life under fire, behind bars, and all the while edged with glory. Read it.
Arthur L. Farstad
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society