Ted Dekker is a New York Times bestselling thriller author. Heralded as a “master of suspense” by Library Journal, Dekker has sold millions worldwide, establishing himself as one of the most widely recognized author brands (he is the fourth most popular thriller writer on Facebook and more than 40,000 readers congregate on his website, www.teddekker.com).
This book starts off with FBI Special agent Brad Raines standing in a gruesome crime scene. A Denver serial killer has killed four beautiful young women, leaving a bridal veil at each crime scene, and this is his latest. Brad uncovers a note left by the killer which leads him to a most unusual place: the Center for Wellness and Intelligence, a psychiatric institution for mentally ill individuals who are also intellectually gifted. He meets Paradise, a woman who has the extraordinary ability to see the ghosts of the last moments of a person’s life when she touches a dead body. However she is plagued with her own problems. When she was little she witnessed her father murder her family and barely escaped with her life. She has been followed by her past, and it is the reason she is in the CWI.
Paradise is described in the book as: short; plainly but badly dressed; light, as if a strong gust would blow her away; pale; she doesn’t wear makeup, even to cover a few spots of acne; and she chews on her fingernails. Frankly, Paradise is not the typical person you would view as attractive or beautiful, and many would go as far as to calling her ugly. But what is beauty and what makes you ugly? The Bride Collector asks that very question and the entire book is basically an answer to that question.
As the killer’s movements intensify, Raines asks for Paradise’s help. He quickly discovers the only way that she will be able to help is if she trusts him. However, as he attempts to win her trust, he begins to see in her things that most people lack. Brad receives a threat from the killer that indicates that his friend, a beautiful young forensic psychologist, becomes the Bride Collector’s next target and makes it personal. The killer plans to murder seven women, the most beautiful of them all. As the killer escalates his actions Brad needs Paradise’s ability to solve the case more and more. Can Paradise help before it’s too late?
Ted Dekker writes this great story with an incredible amount of power. The story draws you in with this power and asks questions that very few have ever considered seriously. What is beauty, and what does it mean to us? Can we love someone who we think isn’t beautiful? Why don’t we think they are beautiful in the first place? It is all these questions and more that drive the story that Dekker weaves. Questions are the fabric of story and Ted weaves the most wondrous tapestry with this book.
The Bride Collector himself is both incredibly creepy and yet you can empathize with him in some ways. He feels unloved and ugly. He uses his extraordinary brainpower to use the idea of God’s love to rationalize his killing. He believes that God loves everyone and loves everyone infinitely, but he cannot believe that he could ever be loved like that. He, like us, feels like dirt, feels unloveable and homely. Have you ever felt like that? We all have, and we have to realize that God really does love us and think we are the most beautiful of all.
Paradise, like the killer, also thinks that she is ugly and dirt to the rest of us. She shows to us the value of inner beauty, regardless of her relative insanity or her outer beauty. She shows us that we can all truly be loved by God and that we can accept that love. Throughout the progress of the book you begin to love her more and more, and by the final chapters you have fallen in love with Paradise. You love the unlovely. So what does that mean for your everyday life? Can you come away from this novel and love those around you that you consider the unlovely? After finishing this book I wanted to love all of those around me that much more, especially those who I didn’t really want to love before.
I encourage everyone to read this book. It challenges you and takes you for a spin. No, a whirlwind. The Bride Collector is the most terrifying story I have read in a long while, and yet it is only complete when all of the questions have been answered. The answers to these questions can be equally terrifying in their own respect. Read, confront your demons, dare your soul, and most of all love, love the unloveable in your life.
Ted Dekker (born October 24, 1962) is a New York Times best-selling author of more than twenty novels. He is best known for stories which could be broadly described as suspense thrillers with major twists and unforgettable characters, though he has also made a name for himself among fantasy fans.
Early in his career he wrote a number of spiritual thrillers and his novels were lumped in with ‘Christian Fiction’ a surprisingly large category. His later novels are a mix of mainstream novels such as Adam, Thr3e, Skin, Obsessed and BoneMan’s Daughters, and Fantasy thrillers that metaphorically explore faith. Best known among these is his Circle Series: Green, Black, Red, White and The Paradise Books: Showdown, Saint, and Sinner.