Monday, April 11, 2011

How Can Paradise See?

In Ted Dekker’s The Bride Collector, the author uses a concept that seems inexplicable to me. Paradise, the female lead, can “see” the last memories of a dead person by touching the body.

The basic concept does not stretch the bounds of my ability to imagine. Perhaps it is possible to connect via some chemical or electrical or magnetic means if one has the proper gift. It is potentially plausible that coming into contact with the recently dead could somehow “download” the final moment of memory.

However, the use of the concept in the story is a bit difficult for me to buy. Paradise is asked to touch the body of a murder victim in the hope that she will “see” something in the poor dead woman’s final memory that can help the FBI track down the killer. The victim has been dead for at least two days and has undergone forensic analysis and an autopsy. Thus the corpse has been handled by any number of people before it is brought to Paradise. Once Paradise touches the dead woman’s cheek, she is assailed by a lengthy and detailed memory, including dialog, more than a minute long.

This is much more than the glimpses and hints usually given to psychics upon contact with a person’s things. Of course, this is the physical body being contacted, not just a possession. But this body has been drained of fluids, its organs removed and examined during autopsy. It is more a collection of parts than a body any more. Any chemical, electrical or magnetic energy it may have retained after death must be long gone. How can it retain any memory, much less impart it to another.

And why is the memory so detailed? The woman was killed by draining her blood. I find it surprising that the last thing retained by the body was not fuzzy and incoherent from blood loss and terror.

I realize that this concept is a device to move the story along, but it stretched my ability to suspend disbelief. I also realize that this is fiction – it does not have to have any connection to reality. But it seems to me that if you are telling a cops and killers story set in present day, you should not step too far into the paranormal for a single plot device.

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