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A Wild, Suspenseful Ride
on February 28, 2009
Mike Dellosso introduced me to Christian suspense/horror with his previous novel, "The Hunted." It wasn't what I normally read at the time, but it opened up a new genre. As I began to explore it, I learned that Dellosso is one of its leading writers.
As much as I enjoyed "The Hunted," I enjoyed "Scream" even more, and it is one wild suspenseful ride of a novel. Its hero, Mark Stone, is an auto mechanic with a failing marriage, struggling to come to grips with how he betrayed his wife. While talking on his cell phone with a close friend, they both hear what sounds like the screams of hell. Moments later, the friend is dead. Then the same thing happens again. And then again. And yet again.
Juxtaposed against Mark's struggles is a man, simply called Judge, who is kidnapping young women, one by one, and holding them in a barn, for a reason that only gradually unfolds. The lives of Judge and Mark move inevitably toward a fatal intersection.
Dellosso avoids what could have been stereotypes. He skillfully draws his hero as all too human, showing his human flaws and frailties as he almost stumbles toward faith. And in Judge he creates a villain who is far more complex, and even more sympathetic, that might be expected for a serial kidnapper. As the two move toward confrontation, the reader knows what Judge is planning, and that knowledge sharply heightens the suspense. The final chapters propel the reader forward to a conclusion that may or may not be what's expected.
One regret -- I wish I'd found Dellosso's books with his fourth or fifth novel, instead of his first or second. I'd have more to read.