I recently finished listening to Ted Dekker’s The Bride Collector. It is a cop vs. serial killer thriller with a love story included. While Mr. Dekker has produced more than two dozen books, this is my first encounter with his work. It wasn’t bad for a first date. I’d give him a 7 on my personal scale. I’d be willing to spend some time with him again, but I’m not ready to give him a spot on my list of favorite authors just yet.
The serial killer, Quintin, was appropriately creepy and twisted. The killings pushed the envelope of nasty and weird. The FBI agent, Brad, was big, handsome and skilled. And then there are the denizens of the asylum for those not only psychotic but highly intelligent as well. These folks not only help break the case, but the FBI agent finds his one true love among their ranks.
The story started out great; it’s pace and level of detail just right for my taste. My heart rate actually increased as the agency pulled out all the stops to find a female FBI agent taken by the killer as his sixth victim. The tension rose as the first place Brad goes to rescue the woman turns out to be a false lead. And, my heart plummeted as they find the female agent – moments too late.
At this point things take a bit of a left turn in my estimation. I have a pretty well developed ability to suspend disbelief, but the progression of the story from this point left that ability a bit frayed around the edges. I found it difficult to believe that the FBI would release case files, much less the body of a victim, to the inmates in an asylum, no matter how brilliant they are. I also can’t quite fathom an FBI agent and a psychotic agoraphobe with personal hygiene issues falling in love after one afternoon spent chatting. And, in the final scenes, I just cannot buy a serial killer who can go, in the space of a few minutes, from using a power drill on a man’s shinbone just to hear him scream to sobbing in the arms of his intended seventh victim because she displays an understanding of his psychological pain.
The story follows a formulaic wrap up to boy meets girl. Love conquers all, including ritual murder and assorted psychoses. The story closes with the entire cast gathered together to revel in their success and happiness – ala Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.