Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Bride Collector

By Ted DekKer

Center Street Publishers

A virtuoso killer is carving a path of death across the west, intent on killing only the most beautiful women, all in the name of love. He has claimed six victims and slipped through the FBI's fingers, each time leaving behind a handwritten note and a bridal veil.
Special agent Brad Raines has hunted the Bride Collector from crime scene to crime scene, but each time he finds himself one step behind. Desperate for help, Raines turns to the Center for Wellness and Intelligence, a private home for gifted, mentally ill residents. There he finds help in an unlikely group of four who eagerly agree to help him solve the case.
Raines is drawn to a young woman named Paradise who struggles with psychosis. As they grow closer, he begins to see the world through her eyes. Together, they enter the killer's deadly game and begin to close in. But like Paradise, the Bride Collector is supremely gifted and he has a distinct advantage: this is his game.
Now Paradise will be pushed beyond her limits. She will learn what it means to be beautiful and what it means to love, really love.

This is easily one of the best novels Ted DekKer has ever written. From the moment you crack the pages, you are immersed in the crime scene of a killer who has just performed his gruesome work: draining beautiful women of their blood while they are glued naked, all except for underwear and a veil, to a wall. Ted introduces Brad Raines, an FBI agent with a troubled past, as the main investigator in the Bride Collector murders. As the story moves on, we are introduced to a host of characters; Nikki, the leading forensic psychologist; Allison, the director of the Center for Wellness and Intelligence; Roudy, Paradise, Andrea, and Enrique (whom everyone called Casanova) -- all residents at CWI. DekKer weaves the story through intricate plot lines that bring the past to bear on Raines, Paradise, and the Bride Collector himself.

DekKer's innovative writing style is evident throughout this book that is destined to be a favorite of his numerous fans. The signature DekKer twist came a little earlier than I expected, and that was by design as he had a lot more to share with us and keep us guessing. There were some things that surprised me about this particular book, however: I saw some errors that slipped past DekKer. Minor things, things like a bullet count in a magazine and an error in logic as the Bride Collector snatched a victim from her home. They were very minimal, but for such an accomplished writer, they were very unusual to say the least.

DekKer attacks some very interesting themes in this book. Mental illness is something that we, as a society, seem to try and brush under the rug. The less we have to look at it, the better. In fact, DekKer brings this statistic to light: "State-by-state closure of state asylums and hospitals between 1960 and 1990 had flooded the streets with mentally ill patients who had no provider to take up their care or cause. Many, up to half by some estimates, wound up incarcerated." How many of these people just needed to have a little bit of actual care to make a positive rehabilitation effective in their lives? Most of the time, we treated the mentally ill with drugs or shock therapy. How many of them just needed redirection and focus of their feelings? This is the story that we find ourselves in. DekKer creates characters that are truly gifted -- even though society calls them crazy.

Through this book, DekKer creates a foundation for discussion on how we look at each other, and how we should look at ourselves. DekKer plumbs the depths of his character and forces us to take a look at ourselves. What really drives us? What really is the reason for why we do and don't do certain things? Who are we, really?

If you have never read a Ted DekKer book before, this is certainly an excellent book to start out with. If you have loved DekKer's writing for years you will NOT be disappointed with The Bride Collector. It's definitely a book I will be revisiting over and over again!

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