Brad Raines is a special agent for the FBI working the case of a new breed of serial killer. As the book opens we find the first victim. She is hung on a wall with a wedding veil upon her head and made to look angelic. Make up has been carefully applied, even lovingly so. Holes have been drilled in the bottom of her feet and she has been drained of all of her blood. She is the 4th.
Raines has an uncanny ability. When he sees a crime scene, he can picture things in his head, almost like Benedict Cumberbatch’s version of Sherlock Holmes, but he can also put himself in the shoes of the killer. But this killer baffles him. He is smart, meticulous. There is no rhyme or reason to his choices in victims or locations. In fact the only thing consistent is the Modus operandi.
Based on a profile, a visit to a psychic, a note from the killer and Brad’s theories, they believe that the killer is likely a former mental patient, possibly schizophrenic but highly intelligent. Nikki, the criminal profiler, and Brad’s almost lover, runs a routine check for mental patients in the area. She finds The Center for Wellness and Intelligence (CWI); a former Catholic hospital for mental patients with high levels of functionality and intelligence.
There, Allison, a former nun, introduces them to Paradise, Roudy, Casanova and Andrea. They are all seriously disturbed. Roudy however can solve complex problems and his particular delusion is that he is a “Sherlock Holmes”. At first Allison believes it is Roudy that can help by remembering a former patient and deciphering the cryptic notes from the killer. Yet it is Paradise, with her quiet ways that does. She has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, but may just have a more spiritual gift. She could be released into society, but several traumas have left her agoraphobic.
Quinton Gauld believes he is god’s hands. He must kill 7 brides for god, saving the most perfect, the most special for last. Each murder is planned and executed to god’s specifications, but the “Rain Man” keeps interfering. After the 5th victim is found, Quinton sees Brad at the CWI and decides on his 6th victim and of course the 7th.
I tend to stay away from Christian fiction because I find that it is preachy and quite frankly, soft. However, Mr. Dekker is able to convey the depravity of the crime by using the killer’s perspective. His acts almost seem affectionate when taken from his point of view, which is disturbing in itself. Also while he reveals the name of the killer, he doesn’t reveal who the killer really is until the end.
The thing that I found best about this book is that it is highly introspective for each of the three main characters. Brad, Paradise and Quinton. Both Brad and Paradise have special gifts that some could construe as insanity. In Paradise’s case they do. The introspections of Quinton and Paradise are both highly perceptive, and from a psych major’s point of view, dead on. It was masterfully done.
The Christian overtones come mostly from Quinton and Allison. There is also a bit from the influence on the patients that being in a Catholic hospital run by nuns can bring. While the hospital is no longer run by the church, Allison left the convent, if you will, to remain with her “family” the patients at the center. As the Director, she is the mother figure for many of them and in Paradise’s case even seems to mettle a bit as mother’s often do. This being the case I wasn’t left feeling preached to and I wasn’t sitting there groaning every time religion was mentioned.
I did enjoy this book. The end dragged on a bit, but overall it was a good read.