Original Books

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

BoneMan's Daughters by Ted Dekker

Ryan Evans has just recently returned from a Navy Intelligence tour in Iraq. He has brought with him an overhaul of emotional baggage that he is trying to deal with. But when he returns to his wife and teenage daughter, who he has not seen in months, he finds that they do not love him any more. They have found love from another man-the district attorney. Ryan loses his temper with the DA and is given a restraining order. But then his daughter, Bethany, is kidnapped, and the DA pins the blame on him. With Ryan's world falling apart, he begins to do drastic things in order to save the one person he loves.

Ricki Valentine is an FBI agent working on the baffling BoneMan case-the case of a serial killer who kidnaps teenage girls and breaks all their bones. The alleged culprit has been captured, but inconclusive evidence releases him. But with a new person to pin the blame on, the original culprit is forgotten. But things do not add up about Ryan Evans. There is something about him that makes Ricki want to believe his story. But time is running out and the killer is still killing.

The one saving grace of this typical-sounding serial killer book is the unusually high amount of imperfect characters and general imperfection. The case is straightforward and predictable, but the imperfection makes this book an interesting read. Also, realistic circumstances and surroundings add to this book's assets.

Ted Dekker has yet to grasp the idea of giving characters personalities, but he can pull off imperfect characters better than most authors. Most authors don't even try. Frankly, the characters are as real as they can be without personalities. Ryan is not a victim of circumstance. He makes and has made many wrong choices that led to unwanted outcomes. There aren't any perfect mentor characters. BoneMan is a bit overdone, but he is almost comical because of this. Ted Dekker can definitely get away with his lack of personalities with characters this imperfect.

All serial killers have to have a reason for their killing, and BoneMan's reason is interesting enough. Sometimes I think that authors enjoy too much creating over-the-top villains in order to sell sensational fiction. Anyone can make a BoneMan, but not everyone can make a Ryan Evans. There are two extremes to leads: so imperfect they're idiotically clumsy, and so perfect they're Jesus reincarnated. Ryan is the balance of these two extremes. Authors have a lot of trouble creating leads. They call a troubled past imperfection and make no effort to make their lead sin. Ryan Evans anchors this book to the Elite List. Without him, this book would be nothing.

The typical showdown at the end and the overemphasis of BoneMan keep this book from being its fullest. I would say Ted needs to quit these serial killer novels, but doing so could eliminate great leads like Ryan Evans.

4 stars

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