After being in prison for three years for a murder he has confessed to but did not commit, former priest and Bosnian immigrant Danny Hansen is transferred from an older, overcrowded state prison to a modern facility. The Basal Institute of Corrections and Rehabilitation, called “The Sanctuary,” is an experimental, state-of-the-art California state prison that is “hidden from prying eyes” of overseers.
Basal’s Warden Marshall Pape, who has secrets of his own, has been given free rein to make changes that will stem the tide of the state’s dismal prison system, where inmates become even more hardened criminals when they are released and the rate of recidivism is appalling.
"Vivid writing, bigger-than-life characters and thought-provoking issues combine to create an entertaining page-turner with a message of sacrifice and unconditional love."
At Basal, Pape hand-picks members --- who are not called inmates or prisoners --- to serve out their sentences in the Sanctuary, and Danny has been chosen as a member. The prison operates by a guiding principle of “an eye for an eye” and has a separate set of rules. Isolated from the outside, Basal’s members are not permitted phone calls, mail or visitations unless they earn the privileges. Pape, who believes everyone is guilty of something, serves as judge, jury and occasional executioner. In short, he is the Sanctuary’s God whose form of justice is swift, sadistic and often severe.
Although Danny is innocent of the murder for which he has been tried, convicted and incarcerated, he is no saint. He is a righteous man and a vigilante who has resorted to violence in the past to exact justice when justice has not been served. Renee Gilmore, the love of his life, is his reason for living. Known as “the priest” at Basal, Danny is immediately tested and challenged, and he is made aware that Renee’s life is in jeopardy.
Meanwhile, on the outside, Renee receives a package with a bloody, severed finger and a phone call warning her that Danny is going to die unless she performs a despicable act. Unable to contact Danny in the isolated Sanctuary to warn him about the death threat, Renee does some detective work. She tracks down a former police officer for help, but he is reluctant at first to get involved. In spite of setbacks and obstacles, Renee will do whatever it takes to save Danny’s life, and Danny will give his life to protect hers.
THE SANCTUARY is another intelligent thriller from Ted Dekker that explores the dark and dangerous world of life behind bars and poses the question: Who are the real criminals? Vivid writing, bigger-than-life characters and thought-provoking issues combine to create an entertaining page-turner with a message of sacrifice and unconditional love.
Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on November 21, 2012