Wednesday, May 11, 2011

'Three' Tries to Charm

Dekker, Ted. Three. Thomas Nelson, 2004.

Like most humans, Kevin Parsons has a past. Like some humans, his past is rearing up to bit him, courtesy of a nemesis named Slater. Suddenly for Kevin and immediately for his audience, Dekker's readers, Kevin's past becomes dangerous and explosive, and it takes the skills of his local police, as well as some larger government officials, to find his nemesis and come face to face with the truth.

It's hard to say anything about the plot of this book without spoiling it for a would-be reader, but suffice to say that the plot is intricate without being laboured. The book manages to draw in flashbacks and stories of Kevin's childhood without losing the momentum of its present-day narrative, which allows the plot to be both compelling and complex. Dekker's characters can come across as flat at times, although I expect this is primarily a facet of the rapid storyline (and perhaps something that can be improved upon in future Dekker novels).

Dekker is a Christian author, following in the footsteps of some very good authors (Frank Peretti, whose Prophet I recently reviewed, for one) and some very mediocre ones. Yet Dekker, perhaps more than almost any Christian author I've read, has a fine grip on the balance between plot and proselytizing (that is to say, he writes the novel and leaves the preaching to the pastors). Despite the fact that Kevin is a seminary student grappling with some large issued of faith and doctrine, the reader is encouraged to ponder rather than to submit to a lecture or an all-inclusive happy and spiritual ending, and it is for this reason, perhaps, that I expect Dekker's work to move outside the world of Christian fiction and into the world of mainstream literature over the next few decades.

As a thriller, this book is strong; as a Christian novel, it is subtle: all this to say that I'm far more impressed than I expected to be. Well done, Mr. Dekker.

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