Review

Boneman’s Daughters

by Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker has written over 20 novels and garnered a loyal fan
base throughout the years. A bestselling author, he is perhaps not
as widely known as some of his peers, in part because he has
achieved a reputation as a writer of inspirational thrillers. This,
to say the least, is an oversimplification of his work, and those
who turn away from it for that reason only are cheating themselves.
Dekker’s novels are inspirational --- isn’t any book in
which good triumphs over evil? --- but his portraits of the darker
side of humanity are as chilling (maybe even more so) as those
you’ll find in any genre.

BONEMAN’S DAUGHTERS may be the book that brings Dekker to
the attention of the wider, so-called “mainstream”
audience his work deserves. Chilling from beginning to end, it is
by turns pulse-pounding, disturbing, enlightening and shocking,
sometimes all within the same paragraph. Its main character is Ryan
Evans, a decent but conflicted man who has let his desires confuse
his priorities and duties. Evans is a U.S. intelligence officer
whose career track has taken him away from his wife Celine and
teenaged daughter Bethany. Celine is a serial adulterer --- whether
by her own failings or through Evans’s absences is left
somewhat vague --- while 16-year-old Bethany is on the cusp of a
modeling career that will bring her fortune, attention and fame:
everything she wants, and nothing she really needs, such as adult
supervision.

Matters come to a head when Evans, on assignment in Iraq, is
captured while on patrol and subjected to a series of horrific
experiences. After escaping with his life, Evans realizes he has
been guilty of neglecting his wife and daughter. Still reeling from
the trauma he sustained resulting from the acts he was forced to
witness as a prisoner, Evans returns home to Texas, only to find
that his wife has taken a lover --- a local district attorney, no
less --- and that his daughter wants nothing to do with him. His
impulsive, desperate reaction results in a restraining order being
imposed, preventing Evans from approaching either of them. He
retreats into himself, effectively isolating himself from everyone,
until the unthinkable happens: BoneMan returns.

BoneMan is a fiend who has been on a killing spree in Texas for
several years. His modus operandi was to kidnap a teenage girl,
hold her for several days, and then murder her by breaking every
bone in her body. A suspect was arrested, tried and convicted, and
there were no more killings for two years. But when the suspected
killer is freed on an appeal, an abduction of a teenage girl occurs
almost immediately. Now the authorities have a new theory: they
believe that Ryan Evans is BoneMan. The murders stopped when Evans
was in Iraq, and his debriefing following his capture indicates
some eerie similarities between his captivity and BoneMan’s
activities.

It is not the accusation that troubles Evans so much as the fact
that the young woman who has been abducted is Bethany. Worse,
BoneMan is taunting Evans directly, challenging him to save his
daughter by performing the one act he cannot do: the murder of an
innocent. Evans is possessed with a canny intelligence, as well as
a deep and abiding faith. With time running out, however, he must
face issues that are excruciatingly painful for him yet must be
confronted if he is to save her life, let alone their
relationship.

Dekker tackles uncomfortable scenarios head-on; even seasoned
thriller readers may cringe at some of his set-ups (I read a good
deal of the book’s last half with my eyes half-closed). But
redemption, in any form, does not come easily or prettily --- read
some contemporaneous accounts of the Crucifixion that haven’t
been prettied up for Sunday services, and it will give you a whole
new viewpoint on life --- and Evans’s torment as he walks the
long road back is certainly consistent with that. From beginning to
end, BONEMAN‘S DAUGHTERS is an addictive, compelling novel
from an author whose optimum popularity and best work are perhaps
yet to be seen.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 22, 2010

Boneman’s Daughters
by Ted Dekker

  • Publication Date: December 21, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Center Street
  • ISBN-10: 0446547204
  • ISBN-13: 9780446547208