Three/Obsessed Author:Ted Dekker "THREE" — Dekker delivers another page-turner with this psychological Christian thriller about Kevin Parson, a 28-year-old seminary student who suddenly becomes the target of an evil nemesis called Slater. Obsessed both with Kevin's downfall and the number 3, Slater initiates a game in which Kevin must answer riddles to avoid Slater's destructive... more », potentially murderous retribution. Slater particularly wants Kevin to publicly confess a secret sin, and Kevin is at a loss as to what that sin might be. Once Dekker establishes this premise, he masterfully takes readers on a ride full of plot twists and turns. Not only does he spin a compelling tale of cat and mouse, but he also creates a narrative world in which it's possible that no one is quite who he or she seems. Dekker gradually discloses his protagonist's nightmarish childhood and delivers an almost perfect blend of suspense, mystery and horror. Dekker's prose is strong, putting him in a league above many other evangelical Christian writers and showing improvement over his previous work. Aside from following certain Christian fiction guidelines such as making his gorgeous 20-something characters entirely virginal, Dekker eschews most of the conventions of evangelical fiction. His spiritual message is subtle and devoid of the theologically and politically conservative agenda present in other novels.
Dekker's (Red, etc.) novel begins intriguingly, flashing back and forth between the 1940s story of two pregnant concentration camp inmates tormented by an evil commandant and the 1970s story of the unfinished business their children resolve. While the characters, especially the group of women in the concentration camp, are initially compelling, their development is subsumed by a tedious plot. Only one scene offers real suspense and horror. Surrounding that compelling moment?when the two young inmates make a desperate choice under appalling circumstances?is an uneven novel with an excessive fascination with its villains' sadism and several abrupt and unseemly changes in tone. The most enduring and wearying contrivance is the extended treatment of Nazism as a quasi-religion, elevated to a homespun form of Satanism by the commandant, Gerhard Braun, and his equally evil son, Roth. The ever-changing rules of this religion are used as a poor and convoluted rationale to explain why Gerhard and Roth let the women and their children live for 30 years, despite countless opportunities to kill them. Dekker adds a treasure hunt element to the plot and a certain amount of slapstick, which feels inappropriate in conjunction with nightmarish scenes from the Holocaust.« less