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on September 25, 2002
Although I'd never read an Athol Dickson novel before, the fantastic reviews and blurbs from other authors convinced me to give it a shot. Boy am I thankful! Otherwise I might've missed out on a great story. The title, though appropiate enough, is ambiguous and rather bland for a mystery thriller. The cover is equally so.
The writing, on the other hand, sparkles. Dickson tells a fascinating tale that incorporates murder, mystery, love, fanatical obsession, Jewish and Christian dialogue, and the depths of relationships. He opens with the release from prison of a man convicted of murder. The two girls who witnessed him over the body, Ruth and Kate, are now grown-up and emotionally disconnected from each other. Their religious differences and the pain of their past have pushed them apart. Ruth, single after the sudden death of her fiance, is a reform Rabbi. Kate, a widow with two kids, is an antique store owner. Neither of them are aware of the threats that have been unleashed with the prisoner's release, but the violence and suspense that soon surround them force them together in a fight for survival.
Dickson masterfully portrays his characters. His villians are wrought with real pain and motivations; his protagonists are fallible, likeable, and sometimes unpredictable. The dialogue rings true throughout. His setting of New Orleans, while never as palpable as in a James Lee Burke mystery, is believable. The only flaw, if it can be deemed so, is the multiple viewpoints that might be distracting to some. Though each character's thoughts are viable, not all of the minor ones are necessary to the overall story. I still enjoyed them for the added nuances they gave.
Without revealing the plot twists and surprises, I'll leave it to others to discover the lingering and powerful effects of this novel. Meet Ruth, Kate, Sol, Gabby, Jake, and Orvis--characters you won't soon forget. Don't let the title and cover fool'll have you tightly in its grip until the final pages.
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on March 12, 2006
After telling a pretty good friend (and source) that I was reading this, he responded with an e-mail simply stating this... "Dickson is amazing." He was right! And, as a certain review title states, the cover and title do appear rather bland, don't they? HA! This was great.

This probably won't be for everyone. For some it will be a rather sensitive subject. Then for others, it will be just what they need, even though it comes in the form of a novel. A Jewish Rabbi and a Christian woman trying to sort out their differences in the midst of turmoil? Yep. Oh yeah, and in this case, they have to trust each other in order get through what's going on. But hey, a man who just served a 25 year sentence for murder has just been released. And wouldn't you know it, people are showing up dead. This is an awesome parable, so to speak. In a way, look at this as a love story, just add some good suspense to it. I think we have a winner with Rabbi Ruth Gold and Kate (Katy) Flint. This comes at a good pace, along with a quiet understanding. Beautiful!

Set aside you preconceptions about Jewish heritage and see if you learn something. Hey for those who don't know most of the terminology like myself, there's a glossary in the back. This even MAKES you (it did me) examine yourself in a way. See for yourself when you read this book, if you get a glimpse of God.
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on September 28, 2012
Has one man had such an effect on our history, our world religions, and our hearts that one mention of his name can inflame one person to kill, or move another person to quickly change the subject out of unease, or cause another person to smile out of their overwhelming peace and love that they feel for the change He has made in their life? Yes, there most certainly was/is such a man. He name is Jesus Christ, and He is much more than just a mere man which is why He has such a strong effect on people. He is the wonderful and amazing Son of God. People either love Him or hate Him. Those that are undecided about Him are either hiding from Him or don't wish to answer the question we must all answer at some point in our life - Will you choose to follow Him or not?

We all know that life tends to get in the way of our best laid plans. One way or another one or a series of events can change our life forever for good or for bad. We can't control those events for the most part, but we can control our reactions to those events. We can choose to allow them to take over our lives and affect our jobs, our family life, and our relationship with Jesus in a negative or a positive way. They can bring us closer to Jesus by relying on Him each day to get us through this trying time, or they can drive us further and further away by believing the lie that God doesn't love us and can't help because He has allowed this to happen to us. What we all need to realize is that we live in a world full of sin, and as a result of the fallen world we live in, our lives are inevitable going to be touched and saturated by the sin swirling around us each day. In the midst of our pain and suffering, we need to choose to see Jesus and allow His love and His grace to envelop us and guide us to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him.

This premise is what drives this elegantly insightful story from start to finish. This is much more than a story of intrigue and suspense. It is a story that lays bare the complexities of dealing with the stark differences and historical atrocities between two of the world's most prominent religions. This is a multifaceted look at how our varying reactions to this sinful world can impact the lives of those around us. After reading this book, no one can comfortably continue lying to themselves that how I choose to live my life doesn't impact anyone but me. This story will rip open your heart and lay out your intentions for both you and Jesus to see and begin to change.

They Shall See God is a heart-wrenchingly, stirring piece of fiction that everyone who is serious about their spiritual growth unequivocally needs to read. The application of this story is essential to all who desire to allow Jesus to transform their heart and soul in order to shine the light of Jesus onto this dark world that is crying out to Him for love and grace. If only more people would long to allow God's love and grace to seep into their heart and replace their hatred for soul-drenching love and their confusion for unimaginable peace. How much better would our world be if more people like this were walking among us making life a little better one loving act at a time? Will you be one of them? Will you dare to make such a change in your heart and your life? Will you have the courage to open this book and continue reading until the end?

I recommend this book to everyone who has reached a stale point in their walk with the Lord. This book will shake you awake and scream its excruciating message into your slumbering heart. It will force you to take a good long look at where you are in your walk with God and where you know you should be/want to be. It will be the cold shower that your journey with Christ needs to breathe life back into your relationship with Him and help you to dig even deeper to continue to clean out the old cobwebs in those hidden parts of your heart. It will help to refuel the dying flame in your soul that has been waning for years now and help to keep it burning bright. You will begin to see people around you in a different light. You will see them for the wandering lost souls that they are and hopefully will encourage you to reach out to them in love. Sharing God's love is never a bad thing - it will always produce a fruitful harvest in time.
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on August 10, 2003
Let me start by saying I normally don't read suspense, but once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. "They Shall See God" is the story of two women whose lives are again thrown together when a murder they witnessed as young girls now threatens their future. The story has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, and the "ride" was just as appealing. Not to mention the excellent writing . . . I highly recommend this book. And I'm off to find more books by Athol Dickson! --Tricia Goyer, author of "From Dust and Ashes."
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on December 16, 2002
To label this book as just a mystery novel greatly undervalues it's importance. To label it as a Christian Mystery novel further reduces this book into the mire of poorly written, mass-merchandised, sappy three-hundred page tracts that represent most novels occupying Christian bookshelvesthese days. To be sure, this is written to be a page-turner, but the dialog is crisp and believable, the plot (although it teeters on the brink ofunbelievability at times) is unexpected and fresh and Athol's writing style is as clever, concise and poetic as any book I have ever read. The
characters are revealed in a very interesting way (think Momento) which keeps the reader from getting too much of the story too soon. It's also very,very moving at times and I found myself reading through tears in my eyes. Any book that can do this, all while challenging the barriers that existbetween Jews and Christians elevates this book into a must read category for anyone who wants to know more about who and what God is. - Jeff Hopfer
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on February 1, 2013
I love how Dickson writes. I think this book has one of the best hooks of any I've read. After the first chapter I was in.

The story is heartbreaking and nerve wracking. The characters are so vivid I wanted to reach in and shake some of them and hug others. Then there were the ones I wanted to hide from.

Bizarre events and imagery fill the pages.

Someone is murdering people in the most unusual ways.

The suspense and mystery revolve around the age-old conflict between Jews and Christians. Old prejudices. Ancient grudges.

You'll find beautiful spiritual lessons and depth. Beyond the suspense and sadness there is truth about love, acceptance, and what Christianity is really about.

If you read this book, it is quite possible you shall see God
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on September 24, 2003
From the beginning of the book to it's amazing conclusion Dickson takes you on a ride you'll never forget. In a world of Christian fiction often cluttered by shallow characters and weak, pop theology, Dickson actually makes the reader think - what a pleasant surprise. This is an intelligent, well-written mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and not wanting to put it down. Caution - the faint of heart should not read this at night. Get this book and read it now, then you'll want to move on to Dickson's Gar Reed mysteries - and will be anxious for him to get his next novel written.
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on September 1, 2003
If you like chiller-diller horror stories with a powerful redeeming edge, this is for you! A kaleidoscope of clearly defined characters, hamstrung by issues of the heart, face resurfaced childhood friends, old friends dying, gentle men locked away in mental wards, a convicted murderer released from prison, and wild animals roaming their Louisiana city. And a chilling study inside the tortured reasoning of a religious, calculating, twisted mind that's convinced he's doing the holy will of God. Keenly written, but not easy, comfortable reading. Hang on to the end to find out what it all means.
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on March 3, 2013
I read about half of it. Then it began to just seem unreal with the coincidences that happened and I was confused at the introduction of characters that I'm sure had something to do with the plot if you stuck with it, but not at the time. I do not approve of the extremes of any movement, but felt the amount of print devoted to the Christians shouting out the Bible verses just became too much. I just lost all interest in the story.
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on September 15, 2012
When I first started reading They Shall See God, I got a little bogged down in all the different characters. I had trouble remembering why we were talking about a particular one, but as the story progressed the characters took a definite shape along the story line and their purpose to the story became clear.

Once I had that settled, I allowed myself to become immersed in the story. Two women who had been best friends as little girls and had witnessed a terrible crime become linked again after 30 years of not seeing each other. The killer they testified against in their childhood is released from prison and returns to his hometown. Not long after his arrival, people who were witnesses to that old crime are being murdered in very strange scenarios. While the scenarios may have been weird, the suspense in the story was believable, which gave it a good balance.

I became so involved in the main characters that I found myself speaking out loud to Ruth about her terrible mistrust of people and her biting bitterness. And I was frustrated by Kate's fear and paralysis. However, as their stories unfolded, I came to understand why they behaved so, and it fit perfectly with the resolution that came by the end of the book. This is not a criticism of the author's portrayal of the characters--it's to say that I was so taken in by the story and the characters that, for me, it was as if they were real people.

The last couple of chapters tied the story up very neatly. That the main characters--who by now had become friends of mine--found peace and forgiveness for others and themselves was purely satisfying, and especially so because Ruth learned from the man she hated so badly what true sacrificial love really looked like. It was what it took to remove all traces of mistrust from her mind.

The true villain of the story ended up being a victim of his own making and received the justice his sick mind had caused him to believe his victims deserved.

More than all that though, this is a story of crossing man-made lines. It's a story about understanding why others believe as they do and loving and accepting each other across religious boundaries. It's a story that puts aside condemnation and misunderstanding. I encourage those who read They Shall See God to stay with the story all the way through the Epilogue; the final answer is there.
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