Book Review: The PRIEST’S GRAVEYARD

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1-26 - Book Review: The PRIEST'S GRAVEYARDTed Dekker
CenterStreet
2011

Two abandoned souls are on the hunt for one powerful man. Soon, their paths will cross and lead to one twisted fate bound by a perilous love. Danny Hansen came to America with hopes of escaping haunted memories of a tragic war that took his mother’s life. Now he’s a priest, incest by the powerful among us who manipulate the law for their own gain, uncaring of the shattered lives they leave behind. It is his duty to show them the error of their ways, even if he must put them in the grave. Renee Gilmore is the frail and helpless victim of one such powerful man. Having escaped his clutches, she now lives only to satisfy justice by destroying him, regardless of whom she must become in that pursuit. But when Danny and Renee’s paths become inexorably entangled, things go very, very badly and neither of them may make it out of this hunt alive.

Ted Dekker is another in a woefully short list of fiction writers that is something of an anomaly in the Christian fiction market. Matter of fact, when it comes to so-called “Christian fiction”, there’s really only two authors I read: Frank Peretti and the author if this novel I’m reviewing, Ted Dekker. Like Peretti, Dekker’s fiction doesn’t feel the need to patronize, actually crafting a good story, rather than utilizing this as a means to an end.

That said, let’s talk about The Priest’s Graveyard, shall we? This is a story about a priest who, because of a rather traumatic childhood, to call him “unorthodox” in his methods would be grossly understating things. He’s a vigilante, really; he’s on the trail of someone who is in need of judgment when he happens upon one of his prisoners: a young lady who is suffering from a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome. What follows is a sticky web of a psychological thriller, with enough twists and turns to make your head swim.

The Priest’s Graveyard was a very good story. With this, we not only got a taunt, spine-tingling psychological thriller with a very engaging mystery that manages to suck you into everything completely, but it also explores the nature of mental illnesses and moral quandaries of black-and-white in a very gray world without taking away from the momentum of the story. The solutions aren’t cut and dried, as the concept of the easy way out of the story isn’t even considered. This is not a book that you can really read in bits and pieces in between your busy life; judging by the majority of write-ups on GoodReads, I’m not the only one who began reading this, then suddenly found myself annoyed that I had to put it down because “real life” was encroaching, and I had to labor in exchange for money for goods and services. Stupid reality. Anyway, great book, good to get lost in some overcast weekend with nothing else to do.

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Book Review: SKIN

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1-18 - Book Review: SKINTed Dekker
Thomas Nelson
2007

A freak storm has spawned three tornadoes that are bearing down on the town of Summerville. Yet under the cover of the storm looms a much more ominous threat: A vindictive killer known as Red who’s left a string of victims in his wake and is now bent on exacting his final revenge on the unsuspecting town. But there is an enigma surrounding Red that the FBI is unwilling to admit – closely guarded secrets of something gone terribly wrong beneath the skin of Summerville. Secrets that will destroy far more than one small town. Wendy Davidson is caught in the middle. She’s a recovering cult survivor who takes refuge in Summerville on her way to visit her estranged mother. And with her, four strangers, any one of whom could be the next victim…or the killer.

Since the beginning of the 21st Century, Ted Dekker has been writing stories with a style that I can describe as having the styles of Dean Koontz and James Patterson genetically cloned and raised by C. S. Lewis in his later fiction writing years. That is to say, he writes thrillers that have just enough science fiction and horror injected and presented in a very cinematic style as to make it equal parts fascinating yet quick to read and digest. And like Stephen King’s Dark Tower mythos in connection to many of his other novels, Dekker has also tied in a lot of his output with a tie-in with his popular Circle/Showdown saga. Just look it up, it’s fascinating.

Skin, released in 2007, is another that has a bit of a tie-in with the Circle/Showdown sagas, but is really its own stand-alone. So, in Skin, a freak tornado storm hits a small Nevada town, decimating it, and leaving a handful of survivors in the wake. Among them are a cult survivor, a cop from that town, a gamer, a lovely young lady, the brother of the lovely young lady, and a serial killer. No one knows who this serial killer is, just that he goes by Sterling Red, and is playing with their heads like a psychotic drunk kitten (as serial killers are wont to do). See, he wants them to kill the ugly persons in the group, and is giving them a limited amount of hours to go through with it, before he just starts offing people himself. Any one of them could be the killer, and that doesn’t bode well for trusting in your fellow man to begin with; especially when a couple in the group already have trust issues to begin with.

Over the course of the story, we’re treated to a decent psychological thriller, with just a touch of that classic Philip K. Dick paranoia to throw you into wondering what is real and what isn’t. Overall, I found the story of Skin to be rather good, a nice engaging thriller with some decent twists to keep things interesting. Some good recreational reading.