Bestselling author Ted Dekker opens his newest action-thriller tale with an explanation. After reading the passionate arguments from many of his fans about which book in his current series should be consumed first, he takes a couple of pages of precious text to offer his own opinion on how best to approach these works that often overlap in both characters and theme before diverging in completely separate time frames. Whether a reader prefers the more methodical, chronological approach or wants to jump in dead center, Dekker's words work: "Either way, enjoy."
Given Dekker's proclivity for taking complicated plots and carefully laying them out for his audience to digest and mull over right before he lands another seemingly totally random thought to catch the unsuspecting reader off guard, those who pick up SINNER will not be disappointed. Throughout this third installment of the Paradise series, he revives characters from the previous novels, sets them in new environments, ages them, and then pulls these disparate lives back together into a cohesive and very effective storyline.
SINNER focuses squarely on the bestowing of words of persuasion and of power as written by Paul in the book of Corinthians. The question is: What type of persuading will Dekker's fictional characters attempt and under whose power will they operate? To offer some background to the current story, his prologue sums up Project Showdown, which was housed near a Colorado mountain where monks raised 36 orphans to write into being flesh-and-blood characters out of their goodness and virtue. The problem was that a few of the children found this power to create intoxicating after discovering the Books of History, and evil was born and personified in the character Marsuvees Black.
Three children from the monastery, now grown adults, received a great power into themselves and for 12 years tried to forget their past. Finally, when evil begins making its appearance again in the persona of Marsuvees Black, Johnny, the Saint, steps forward and tries to convince fellow monastery dwellers Billy and Darcy to align themselves with him to overcome Black's influence. Impressed by their supernatural power to read people's minds (Billy) and to bend people to her will with her words (Darcy), Johnny (who sees through blind eyes) has a tough road ahead of him.
Then the government enters the scene, and amidst national acts of violence against anyone deemed "intolerant," Billy and Darcy are recruited to intervene and bring peace at any price. This so called "peace" is simply legal speak for shutting up and down any talk of religious freedom of speech. Initially, Billy and Darcy succumb to the heady power they wield. But Johnny takes a stand for truth in Paradise, the same town where the three first battled against evil (internal and external). Setting the stage for another showdown, Johnny calls on those faithful to Christ to make a stand of peace while Black is working hard in the background to derail and depose Johnny's message by using and seducing Billy and Darcy. True to form, there is a showdown in Paradise where each person must face his or her own heart and its darkness, and decide to embrace the light of truth or give in to an easier, more palatable road.
Ted Dekker concludes SINNER in his usual dynamic mode of excitement and will have fans impatiently expecting and anticipating his next installment.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on September 2, 2008