The Bride Collector
Written by Ted Dekker
Hachette Book Group, 2010
Plot: A serial killer murders 'perfect' women as offerings to God while FBI Special Agent Brad Rains hones in on the psychopath.
Ted Dekker has penned some phenomenal stories - chief among them the Circle Trilogy - as well as some fodders, like Skin. The Bride Collector falls in-between these two spectrum's. On one hand, it's a rather engaging hunt between Rains and the killer, Quentin Gauld, but on the other hand, it's a decent romance written far too Twilight-esqe for my taste.
I'm not sure how to tackle this review, so I'll head straight first to the topic of the serial killer. Quentin is under the impression that God wants seven of the beautifulest women/brides in the world to return to his heavenly kingdom, and that Quentin's function on earth is to help these women recognize their importance to the Lord and send them up to heaven for the big guy. A sort-of weak foundation for a killer that nicely weaves in Dekker's need for Christian elements into the fray. I wager my biggest disappointment with Quentin, then, is that despite entire chapters dedicated to getting into his mind, he just seems so darn flat, not unlike Agent Rains.
Brad Rains sucks at commitment after a really, really bad split with his last gal, Ruby. This particular storyline is quite intriguing - getting into Brad's mind and experiencing his reactions to the Ruby situation. But after that, he isn't given much to work with. The remainder of his storyline is deliberating between should I? or shouldn't I? He questions a blossoming romance and the consequences of that, he questions his abilities, whether or not he should consult intelligent members of a mental institution for help, etc. Perhaps Brad should have had a few more demons in his closet, or make him reckless. He just felt so...procedural?
A romance blossoms between Agent Rains and Paradise (one of the gals at the institution who isn't actually mentally wacky), which, y'know, I've got no problems about. In fact, it's a rather interesting relationship. Brad and Paradise are almost equals in regards to their intelligence, and they have a mutual attraction which always falls into the good category. Paradise herself is a captivating character, her thoughts and reactions to events and words always a particular interest to read. The only problem that I have with this romance is how it's handled - writing wise. What the reader endures for the next 300 pages is nothing short of the male version of Stephenie Meyers obnoxious multi-paragraph 'OMG, he/she is SO dreamy' essays that are repeated nearly every other page. After the first 10 times their attraction is hinted at and subsequently denied by both of them as vigorously as they can, I get the point. I understand Paradise fully - her mental and physical quirks and all, as I do Brad Rains, bland-ish figure that he is.
The main problem with The Bride Collector that I have concluded is that it doesn't offer enough original material, characters, situations, etc. to make it stand out.
Overall, The Bride Collector was a quick, brisk read that was interesting enough to make it a page-turner, but with further contemplation, it's not one of Dekker's finest works. And I respect the guy, so it's sucky for me to say that. Nevertheless, I'm still on the lookout for new Dekker books, and I highly recommend his work to any newcomer.