Robert Beveridge's Reviews > The Bride Collector

The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
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's review
Apr 15, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: amazon-vine, finished, owned-and-still-own
Read from March 14 to 23, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: 1

Ted Dekker, The Bride Collector (Center Street, 2010)

I haven't had much experience with Ted Dekker over the years, but I've always enjoyed the books of his I've read. It's Christian fiction that always kind of makes me wonder exactly how Christian it really is, and that, to me, is always a good thing. (L'Engle and Mauriac both wrote like that, though obviously in different genres.) Religious aspects aside, Dekker writes solid, intelligent thrillers that usually manage to keep me guessing. The Bride Collector is different in this regard that we know whodunit from the start; the real puzzle is in figuring out how all the pieces of this puzzle will fit together neatly. It's a step off the usual path for Dekker, and he does stumble in a couple of places. But if you're a fan, this book will do nothing at all to change that; it's still Ted Dekker.

Brad Raines is an FBI agent, formerly of Miami, now living in Denver. Not long after he gets there, he finds himself on the case of the Bride Collector, a serial killer whose victims are always found glued to the wall in the crucifixion pose, completely drained of blood through holes drilled in their heels but otherwise unharmed—and expertly made up. The good guys are getting nowhere on the case until the killer starts leaving them clues. One of those directs Brad to the Center for Wellness and Intelligence, a place where only the most highly intelligent mentally ill (called “gifted” by the new-agey ex-nun who runs the place) are admitted. Brad, assuming the killer was once a patient there, heads out and comes face-to-face with a team of gifted who may really give meaning to the term, and whose unofficial leader, Roudy, is eager to put them to use helping Brad to crack the case. He finds himself drawn to one of them, Paradise, an agoraphobic and psychotic who has a truly special gift: when she touches a dead body, she may be able to see the last few moments of that person's life.

And here's where I find myself questioning Dekker and his Christianity, though I don't mean this in any negative sense. Thing is, Paradise's seemingly supernatural abilities are just that: supernatural. The rest of the team's gifts (and, to be fair, a good deal of Paradise's) can be put down to purely rational explanation—a person who's very skilled at reading people can pick up a lot that others don't see, as generations of so-called psychics can attest—but Paradise's ability to see ghosts seems well beyond the pale of what I was taught in Sunday school. (I grant you, as many reviewers have, Paradise did not come by her name by accident, and maybe I'm just overthinking it.)

Now, what I meant about stepping off the path earlier. First off, I'm not denying the book has strengths. The book has a false climax about halfway through that had me wondering for forty pages how in the world, having gotten to this point, he was going to draw it out. (Once I saw what he was doing, a lot of the rest of the book fell into place for me, but that doesn't lessen the strength of that passage). It's after that that things go slightly wrong, though the book never falls off a cliff like so many thrillers-gone-wrong. Once you get to that scene, Dekker's pattern becomes obvious and the rest of the book becomes predictable (save how the killer fits into the pattern, which is a very nice touch). There are some people for whom this will be a big problem; I'm not one of them. As much as I like it when I get completely blindsided by a thriller's Big Reveal (cf. Dekker's Thr3e), I can appreciate a well-written thriller even if I can see what's coming, and that was the case here. Once Dekker had me, he wasn't letting go. As usual. *** ½

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message 1: by Bill (new)

Bill Huh. I've never heard of Ted Dekker. I'll have to check him out.

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