Dekker does it again with this amazing new thriller that challenges the reader to reject what the world deems to be "normal" and "beautiful."
Brad Raines is an FBI Agent tracking down a serial killer who kidnaps beautiful-seemingly innocent-women, and drains the blood from their body and leaves them hanging up to be found as perfect and blemish-free brides, hence the name The Bride Collector. Nikki, a psychologist working with Brad on the case, helps Brad for the sake of the case, but it is clear she has romantic interests in Brad. Quinton Gauld is the killer Brad is tracking: he leaves no evidence behind except a note revealing his intentions-to make things personal. Brad, with no other clues in the note than an implied reference of the mentally instability of the killer, stumbles upon The Center for Wellness and Intelligence, a secluded home for the mentally and emotionally challenged, yet extremely smart people. Here he meets Roudy, a self-proclaimed modern day Sherlock Holmes, Andrea, a stunningly beautiful schizophrenic who is great with numbers and patterns, Cassanova, the ladies' man, and Paradise, a broken and unkempt young woman who may have the ability to see the last few minutes of a person's life before their death. Hoping to use Paradise's gift, Brad brings the rag-tag group in on the case, but not before the killer strikes again.
The Bride Collector is an intense ride, with naturally gruesome scenes, quirky characters, and a message that applies not just to the characters, but to the reader themselves.
Interestingly, I was really impressed with the literary depth of characterization Dekker implemented into this story. Unlike most murder-mysteries, the reader is almost immediately introduced to the killer himself, revealing his name, his methods, his insight on the world and why he is killing these women. Dekker compares and contrasts the hero, Brad, and his antithesis, Quinton: their personalities, their purposeful actions, their motivations, the environments in which they surround themselves and the traumatic events in their past that they are still coping with. He asks the symbolic question, "Are these two men the same?" and then lets the story play out.
Dekker also introduces us to two women which are compared and contrasted. Nikki is Brad's partner on the case, a psychologist whose interest for Brad is to the world, natural. Paradise is a young woman haunted by psychological disorders, a past that scars her, and the possible gift that she can see ghosts and possibly experience the last few minutes of a person's life before their death. Dekker compares the two women, focusing on Nikki in the first half of the book, and then on Paradise in the last half, allowing the reader to experience how both women are valued, cherished, favored, and beautiful.
Dekker's characterization is spot on, with rich background history of the main four characters, along with a cast of mentally and emotionally challenged-yet extremely intelligent-characters who attempt to help Brad and their friend Paradise crack the case of the Bride Collector. Their quirkiness provides humor that lightens the weight of intensity of the situation for a brief moment.
The story and plot is a fast ride, taking twists and turns and unexpected results that refuse to let the reader put the book down for a second.
Dekker also explores such themes as "normalcy", motivations and desires, and "who is God's favorite?". All in all, Dekker has a well-written, purposeful story that is sure to shape the hearts of those who read it.