February 18, 2010
Review of "The Bride Collector" by Ted Dekker
Synopsis: FBI Special agent Brad Raines is facing his toughest case yet. A Denver serial killer has killed four beautiful young women, leaving a bridal veil at each crime scene, and he's picking up his pace. Unable to crack the case, Raines appeals for help from a most unusual source: residents of the Center for Wellness and Intelligence, a private psychiatric institution for mentally ill individuals whose are extraordinarily gifted.
It's there that he meets Paradise, a young woman who witnessed her father murder her family and barely escaped his hand. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Paradise may also have an extrasensory gift: the ability to experience the final moments of a person's life when she touches the dead body.
In a desperate attempt to find the killer, Raines enlists Paradise's help. In an effort to win her trust, he befriends this strange young woman and begins to see in her qualities that most 'sane people' sorely lack. Gradually, he starts to question whether sanity resides outside the hospital walls...or inside.
As the Bride Collector picks up the pace-and volume-of his gruesome crucifixions, the case becomes even more personal to Raines when his friend and colleague, a beautiful young forensic psychologist, becomes the Bride Collector's next target.
The FBI believes that the killer plans to murder seven women. Can Paradise help before it's too late?
This was my first Ted Dekker book and after immersing myself in Mr. Dekker's prose for the last week, I feel like Augustus Gloop might have felt after drinking Willy Wonka's chocolate river - - satiated and happy to have done it, despite the messiness.
The Bride Collector is the type of genre book I have always been drawn to, a mystery/thriller. I don't mind if I solve the mysteries/thrillers before the end (provided that if the clues are obvious the hero or heroine figures it out as well). What I do mind is if the hero or heroine does something completely out of character or something that is so obviously to make him or her have a run-in with the killer or bad guy but is the type of move that defies common sense (such as taking a midnight stroll while a serial killer is on the loose, right smack in the middle of the killer's hunting ground).
Fortunately Mr. Dekker avoids illogical character actions and reveals the identity of the Bride Collector fairly early on. The mystery isn't so much the killer's identity but why he's doing what he's doing and whether or not hero Brad Raines can stop him.
I found Brad to be a hero you can root for. I liked his character and I particularly enjoyed that Mr. Dekker didn't say so much with words that Brad was a faithful and loyal man who was adept at his job, he let Brad's actions shape and mold his character. If you've read my past reviews you know that I like characters with flaws and Brad is no exception.
The Center for Wellness and Intelligence was an interesting and fascinating locale for a portion of the book. Supporting characters Allison, Andrea, Roudy and Cass added extra dimension and flavor to the story and I found the psychiatric and psychological themes to be appealing without being heavy handed or overly academic. These characters on their own formed unusual stories that could have demanded more.
As much as I liked Paradise, I also felt she was a bit weak and I wished her family storyline and connections could have been further developed and identified. I enjoyed her "ability" and I would have appreciated reading more about that.
The Bride Collector himself, however, was a powerful and satisfying character. As much as you root for Brad and hope for the Collector's failure, you also hope that these two strong men will come face to face, a good versus evil, if you will. Mr. Dekker did an outstanding job with fleshing out the Collector and making him more than just "the serial killer".
In short, I found The Bride Collector to be an intense, action-packed, and ultimately very satisfying, read. Mr. Dekker threw one or two unexpected curveballs in the book that kept this reader on her toes and anxiously flipping each page. I thought the story was absorbing, as well as Mr. Dekker's writing, which made me care about the characters and what happened to them. I plan on adding Mr. Dekker to my "must read" list and am pleased that I had this opportunity.
The Bride Collector is available for pre-order now through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It may also be pre-ordered through Hachett's website.
For more by and about author Ted Dekker, visit his Facebook page, his Twitter account and/or his website.
The Bride Collector counts toward my progress in the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge.
Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.