Taut and well written, this is a suspenseful psychological novel. A serial killer in Denver captures beautiful women and impales them by gluing them to a wall, one woman in each of seven different sordid locations, each woman dressed in a bridal veil. Of course they are all beautiful and they are all young. The killer leaves no DNA, no fingerprints, no tire tracks, nothing that investigators can use to discover his identity. But we the readers find out who he is early in the novel, a brilliant, supremely confident schizophrenic, gloating at his success and thumbing his nose at the authorities who can't catch him.
Special Investigator Brad Raines of the FBI thinks the killer is in love with his victims, creating a supreme sacrifice, an offering to the gods, of sorts, a macabre expression of love. But the deaths fuel the killer to continue his rampage, like a vampire feasting off the blood of his hapless prey. But it takes a psychotic to know one and off the investigators go to an institution for the insane, but an institution limited only to insane persons of high intelligence, (Remember Hannibal Lecter?)
The institution is filled with zany characters but the most notable is Paradise, a young woman who had suffered severe emotional trauma and who is reported to be able to touch a murdered person and name the killer by picking up some sort of vibes via osmosis. She hears voices and sees ghosts but nevertheless, you kind of get the feeling the real crazy people and killers are not in the institution, they are outside it and among us.
Brad has a premonition. He wants Paradise to view body number five, Melissa. But Paradise won't leave the asylum, she is afraid of the outside world. So the mountain must go to Muhammad. The body is taken to Paradise at the asylum. On the gurney the sheet is pulled back revealing the dead girl's face. And Paradise, trembling, touches the cold cheek. And then... and then....
I'm not going to tell you anything more because I don't want to inject any spoilers; it's almost impossible to discuss the plot without giving something away. Suffice it to say I was scared to go to bed!
P.S. I am adding this postscript a couple of days after I posted the original review. The reason is, I've thought a great deal about the character "Paradise Founder." Why she is named Paradise is explained in the book. But her first and last names together are an allusion to a question asked of epic poet John Milton:
"Thou hast said much of paradise lost, but what hast thou to say of paradise found?"
The killer in the novel mentions Milton's "Paradise Lost" in one of the cryptic messages he leaves at the murder scenes. Paradise Founder is quite an appropriate name. Anyway, this strange little girl upstages hero Brad Raines.
As part of the Amazon Vine review program, I recently selected the book The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker as one of my review items. I've not had the opportunity to read any of Dekker's works before, and the psychological thriller sounded like a decent way to spend a few evenings. Overall, the book was enjoyable. I'd have liked it to be a bit tighter in places where the action seemed to drag, but there were definitely enough characters to keep my interest.
Brad Raines is an FBI special agent who tends to end up with very complex and gruesome murder cases. In this instance, he's responsible for someone who is abducting women, gluing their naked bodies to the wall, placing a wedding veil on their heads, and letting them bleed out through two holes drilled in their heels. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill murderer... The killer's pace is accelerating, and he's not leaving anything behind in the way of forensic evidence that can be used to track him down. It's only once he starts leaving notes behind for Raines that there's any sort of trail to follow. And the trail is quite warped. He is presenting these women to God, and is working up to his perfect offering. In desperation, Raines turns to a patient who is living in an institution for the mentally ill. She is supposedly able to touch a body and see the event that killed the person. Raines isn't all that open to the possibility, but he has little else to go on. And when events start getting extremely personal and close to home, Raines is forced to confront his own demons along with those of others in order to stop the killer and save the ones he loves.
The way the story is structured, you know who the murderer is right off. The story bounces back and forth between the killer and Raines, so the payoff isn't the "who dun it" resolution at the end. Instead, it's more along the lines of seeing whether Raines will be able to stop him before he can claim his final victim. Dekker also touches on issues such as the mentally ill, spirituality, abuse, and a few other themes that will allow the reader to ponder such topics if they so choose. In the middle of the story, things slow down a bit, and it seems as if we're just killing time before the end game comes into play. I also felt as if some of the characters, especially Nikki Holden, were less developed than I would have expected. It may be that this isn't the first novel with the Raines character, in which case I could understand it. But I still felt as if I was missing something in terms of the depth of some of the people...
I'd have no problems heading over to the library and starting to catch up on some prior Dekker novels. The Bride Collector was worth reading, and if his other novels are as good as this one, I'd enjoy them.
Obtained From: Amazon Vine Review Program
on September 2, 2011
The Bride Collector is not a book I enjoyed listening to, and although I was very frustrated most of the time, I finished it!
It's a mix between a mystery -thriller/romantic style novel.
The book started out ok, but there was just too much repetition and I couldn't really enjoy the book because I felt like it was just too weak.
I had no idea that Ted Dekker was a Christian author, and I was kinda put off by some of the more dark details. I mean there's no nice way to describe what a serial killer does, but I dunno...
I hated the fact that there was so much emphasis on romantic feelings(between Brad and Paradise) because for me, it took away from the book. It's hard for me to focus on the thriller when right in the middle of a build-up scene they are cuddling, looking at each other, wanting to touch/kiss...it was just so silly to me.
I quess I was just expecting something different.
I feel like the author was trying to portray a message of what "true beauty" really was, but it kinda feel short for me, because in one way beauty shouldn't be defined by clothes, status, etc... but then all through the book I hear how beautiful Brad was (tall, blonde,built), and even Paradise who started off as plain, unkept, was transformed literally into a "beautiful woman" through a salon visit,and is finally recognized as beautiful through her actions and heart.
This book just didn't make much sense to me, I mean it had the makings of a good novel, but it was just something to listen to.
I would recommend checking this out from your local library before spending any money on it...
While obviously a murder mystery--even if one were to solely judge a book by its cover--I was surprised to find that Dekker takes the reader on a journey seldom visited in novels, and certainly not in real life, at least by most people. Dekker can be extremely descriptive, so be prepared for minute details, plus the point of view jumps from character to character, allowing deeper insight into each character without ever knowing the entire story. These are observations, not criticisms, because I really enjoyed this novel. I was further surprised when the murderer was revealed early on, and I often asked myself what more the author could possibly write, and yet I was never disappointed until I neared the end and felt he could, well, continue writing more. It was definitely a page-turner as others have described, and like many, I hated to put down (but you have to sleep sometime, right?).
I don't think it was an accident that Ted Dekker chose the name "Paradise" for his complex heroine in this unusual thriller. I have not read Dekker's work before so I had an open mind.
The set up is a serial killer who has glued beautiful women to walls and systematically drained their blood by inserting a drill in their heels. He leaves them wearing a bridal veil on their nude torsos. This psychotic killer has motivated the FBI to find the murderer and stop further killings. Brad Raines, a 32 year old, sensitive and bright FBI agent, thinks out of the box and his quest leads him to an unusual institution. At the Center for Well-being and Intelligence, he discovers mentally ill patients who are gifted with possible extra sensory powers and high intellect. One of the patients is Paradise; she can touch people and see how they died.
We learn early on who the killer is and the reader despises him even though Dekker puts us inside his head to try and explain his madness. His hatred for anyone who annoys him is way off the scale. An early scene involved hitting a strange child in a restaurant's bathroom to teach him a lesson about proper behavior. Faith appears to be one of Dekker's themes and since the killer`s mission is to find the perfect bride for God, allusions to devotion are rampant throughout the plot.
I am probably in the minority but I thought the book was too long, it dragged on and there were no real surprises. The murderer was a victim of extreme abuse and Paradise witnessed the most horrific family massacre. I did find originality in the Center for Well-Being and Intelligence. Dekker was able to humanize the mentally ill and their pain was palpable. Paradise's name was well chosen but I found Allison, the ex-nun who was the administrator of the Center the most interesting character and one who knew how to heal the heart.
on August 21, 2013
I honestly don't know where to begin with this book. I don't usually review books I read (other than maybe in passing, to friends) but this one was just terrible and creepy enough to warrant it. Be warned, I am not going to hold back any details of the plot because the book honestly isn't worth reading... I'm a little disappointed I finished it, honestly. I blame the 'train wreck' phenomenon.
The dialogue is route and at times, painful. The main character is two dimensional as all get out, and doesn't inspire even empathy from the reader. He also seems to have more multiple personalities than the actual crazy people in the book, switching back and forth from various trite cliches (manly lawman of steel to weeping blindingly progressive romantic). The insane serial killer is the most realistic and enjoyably written character (although not nearly enjoyable enough to elevate his surroundings) and even he suffers from cliches and 180s.
Honestly, my biggest issue with the book is that it reads like a creepy rapist fantasy. The ENTIRE issue of the plot is that the killer tried to force a sexual relationship on a girl that he saw as innocence (read: naive) personified, who was not receptive of the advances/mentally competent to consent. He then hopes to mold her and change her mind to his own ends. Then the hero turns around and does the EXACT same thing, practically.... no it's not out and out rape, like the bad guy, but there are too many similarities that make it come across as something creepy and wrong, rather than the whole aspect of the book we're supposed to be rooting for.
I'm not saying that people with mental illnesses can't have adult relationships... I'm pretty sure we'd all be alone if that was the case. But Paradise is clearly framed as someone who's societal development stopped at a very, very young age. The main character notices and accepts this, in practically the same sentence that he starts to notice how beautiful, desirable, and alluring she is to him. That is creepy, and it reads like what it essentially is: lusting after a child. After she gets an again, very child like, crush on him, he exploits it and uses it to his advantage because he is interested in her in a way that is not child-like in the slightest. The book tries to excuse this because we're told she's of age and they try to claim that she comes out of her child-like shell and is able to properly desire and execute adult relationships... but we're not shown that in any way, merely told it's happened, and even the telling - between the combination of sloppy, teen-diary level prose and it's contrite and convenient nature - is really ineffective. The only saving grace is the possible alternative, appropriate love interest who is promptly and unceremoniously killed off to give the main character a chance to get all weepy and introspective and clear the way for the creeptastic father and child relationship to fully blossom.
Honestly, unless you agree with the statement that mental institutions are great places to pick up chicks, especially child-like ones, you're going to find this book creepy. Add the poor prose (how many times are you going to call her the projection of innocence?) and character development on top of that, and it is not an enjoyable read. The best I got out of the book was a good guffaw from the absolutely LITERAL dues ex machina at the end. I bought it for $2.50 in a bargain bin at a local grocery store (honestly, because of the art direction of the hardback cover, so props to whomever handled that) and I vastly overpaid. I usually keep any book I read, even if I find it mediocre. This one will certainly go at the back of the shelf, and possibly even find its way into the dumpster.
on July 26, 2011
I bought this book because of an Amazon recommendation the site gave me on the basis of my reading other, similar thrillers and unaware Ted Dekker was a well-regarded author or that his work has a Christian slant to it. To be honest, while I did notice the presence of religious themes the explicit Christianity in the book is so negative that I didn't realize the author presents himself as Christian. That said, that was the least of this book's problems.
"The Bride Collector" follows (literally, at points) a ritualistic killer being tracked by the FBI's Boulder office. The agent, Raines, and his partner are supposedly serial killer experts but it's clear Dekker is not, from the sloppy and awkward to flat out stupidity. For example, use of the 'Bride Collector' nickname being told to potential resources: using a nickname like that is a sure fire way to bias the people being interviewed. Worse, considering the book is about a ritual killer, one of the so-called experts, a psychologist at that, is unequivocally wrong:
"Most [serial killers] are well educated, financially stable, often good looking, seemingly well-adjusted people. Unlike mass murderers, whose delusions feed beliefs of supremacy, serial killers act for personal gain or revenge. They do so in a calculated, thoughtful way." [p12, eBook edition]
As even a fleeting glance at the national database for serial killers, organized by the FBI, would tell you that this single sentence is wrong in no less than five ways it's hard not to classify this novel as criminally stupid. The type described above is only a single type of ritual killer. There are also many who are isolated loners or antisocials without steady income or in a low paying job and while most are slightly above average in intelligence (only slightly) they are often self-taught. Also, a variety of motivations exist, including at least three types of killers (Angel of Death, Missionaries, Visionaries) with an opinion of self-importance, as if singled out for a necessary duty. This is something our FBI agents should have learned in their first criminology course, let alone first seminar on serial killers.
The other point of focus is mental instability of the female protagonist and love interest who lives in a upper class psych clinic. Paradise is a stringy haired pixie of a woman with the maturity of a young teen, which would be disturbing enough given the age of Agent Raines. Add in that she's actively delusional, though she seems able to tell which delusions are delusions and which are what it seems are psychic imprints/actual ghosts. When she gets in contact with a victim the reader is told that this ghost seeing is not illusion but while she sees the face of the killer it's so traumatic she immediately blocks it out. Interestingly, she's being given an (unnamed) medication to manage her schizophrenia without her knowledge (she's told it's a vitamin) which seems to be the one magic psychiatric med with no serious side effects. Conveniently when she misses a single dose within a few hours she begins to actively hallucinate, a plot twist so unbelievable it's ridiculous.
The other characters with psychiatric disorders are flat, repetitive, and oh so much more crazy than the relatively stable and merely eccentric Paradise. Agent Raines empathizes with her, comparing his struggle to hers because, gasp, he knows what it feels like to be alone. Please. Lucky for Paradise Raines is just the guy to help her out of her deeply ingrained fear of men stemming from her father's abuse. He can also make her feel beautiful about herself; Ted Dekker seems to be the sort of guy who thinks that stringy hair and two showers a week can make a beautiful woman plain or unattractive but not to worry as he orchestrates a makeover just in time for the climax. In a handful of meetings she wants to jump his bones and even mentions marriage once or twice. The killer fits into the less than 1% of ritual killers who are ill, also with schizophrenia. Because Paradise is special she's only ill in the most convenient of ways and is very beautiful, not like all those strange nut jobs. Not that Dekker would recognize a nut from a bag of flower: his descriptions of schizotypal behavior come off as second or third hand from someone who doesn't really understand the disorder. From back to front the psychiatric part of the plot is insulting, dismissive, and inaccurate in the worst of ways.
Finally, if the characters were at least somewhat engaging and likeable the book might have some redeeming feature but Raines, the killer, and Paradise all sound so familiar when they lead the narrative that the characters don't even manage distinct. Without the flowery language and a number of unnecessary plot twists this book could have been half the length to its benefit. Horrifyingly, I could go on, which says something in itself. Please, please save your money because if there was any justice Dekker wouldn't benefit so much as another nickel for this trite, poorly researched, illogical mess.
on April 8, 2011
I have read many of Dekker's books and have watched him grow as a writer. Some of his earlier works, such as Thr3e had a great build up and then just fizzled out at the end. The Circle Trilogy was his best in my opinion, although the second book dragged. Dual reality stories from Dekker are the best.
The Bride Collector was too graphic for Christian fiction - maybe he needs to go secular with this genre so his loyal readers aren't caught unaware. I was uncomfortable with the graphic content from the get go and I almost didn't finish it after the first 100 pages. I decided to read it to the end with the intent of posting a review. I usually don't write or read reviews, but as I struggled with the story line I promised myself I would write a review and read what other's thought. I was surprised to read high praises for a book that was flat and for a writer who tried too hard to make this story "current" by using the format from TV series such as CSI and Criminal Minds.
The characters weren't viable. I didn't like any of them - they were one dimensional. Also, I found the plot very confusing. I did not see a Christian theme, although Christ was mentioned, God was mentioned. The bride of Christ was the theme for the book but Dekker did not say what that meant theologically, except to say we are all God's favorites which is not true. Some of us are God's enemies.
Mentally ill people, mostly psychotic and schizophrenic, lightly medicated and helping to solve a serial murder case is a very unlikely scenario. Dekker has mentioned mental illness in other books as well. I am not sure he fully understands the disorders he's portraying. He may be familiar with schizophrenics through personal experience, but he's off the mark with the characters he developed for this story. I know many schizophrenics and none of them are like Paradise, not even close. The dialogue among the characters was annoying after a while. Repetitive babbling would be expected in the real world, but for a reader it was too much to keep track of--less is more, besides I didn't feel engaged and ended up skipping over the gibberish. I wondered if Dekker was using this book as a platform to de-stigmatize mental illness.
Like another reviewer said, this will be my last Dekker read. He has evolved from a writer about spiritual darkness oppressing and wreaking havoc in people's lives to contributing to that very darkness himself. Reveling in explicit details of sexual chemistry and brutal attacks by a dark character verges over the line of realism and pushes the boundaries for Christian fiction. The explicitness does not edify, but merely shocks and repulses. I would not recommend this as suitable for a Christian audience.
on July 24, 2011
I personally believe Dekker went way over the top on this one. The story was too macabre for my taste. Morbid details that made me cringe. Very violent and sexually perverse in many ways. I've enjoyed some of Dekker's novels in the past. But, now I genuinely question the man's sanity. The Bride Collector is perhaps the darkest novel I ever began to read, so dark I couldn't finish it. Is this what we are now calling Christian entertainment? God help us.
on April 20, 2010
So, Ted Dekker is one of my all time favorite authors. I highly suggest any of his books. He is brilliant. His newest book "The Bride Collector" just came out this past week on the 13th. I can say that I literally read this book in 2 days. I did NOT want to put it down! I won't post the description since it can be found above.
The story line won't leave you bored. When Ted Dekker writes books, there isn't a lot of filler in the beginning. The story line takes off right away, so there isn't any boring intro stuff to read through. You are immediately introduced to the roller-coaster that is the story. The characters are well developed. It is a solid thriller that fits in well with the rest of Dekker's thrillers. What makes Dekker's books interesting is that he basically likes to explore the internal struggle of his characters, which is very evident if any of you have ever read any of his previous books. This leads the reader to take a look into their own lives and discover a little something about themselves.
My favorite character in this book is Paradise. I don't want to give a lot away, so you guys will just have to check out this book for yourselves, but she is different from any of the other characters that Dekker has written about. We can all learn a lot from Paradise, actually. So I hope you guys will go pick up this book, maybe share it with your friends. It is definitely worth the read. I think it is one of the best he has written. His books just keep getting better!