Thr3e - Ted Dekker

Jun 07, 2003 01:35 PM EDT

I had never read anything by Ted Dekker before I sat down to read Thr3e. I rarely get the opportunity to read Christian fiction (and usually when I do, I'm disappointed), and I was only vaguely familiar with Dekker's past work, which includes the novels Blink, Blessed Child, and Heaven's Wager.

But when Thr3e landed on my doorstep, I was quickly intrigued by the plot description on the back. Diving into the book, I was thoroughly hooked within a mere handful of pages. Have you ever found yourself craving a really gripping book to read -- that rare book that's so intense you find yourself thinking about it at odd times and picking it up to read a few more lines while sitting at stoplights? Thr3e is one of those books.

Thr3e tells the story of Kevin Parsons, an intelligent young man with a family closet full of skeletons, who finds himself caught up in a nightmare scenario. Borrowing a page from the adrenaline-filled movie Speed, the book wastes no time jumping right into the action: In his car, Kevin receives a call on his cell phone from a man he doesn't know. Calling himself Slater, the man tells Kevin that he has three minutes to call the newspaper and confess his sin, or Slater will detonate an explosive that he's attached to Kevin's car. Unable to figure out what sin Slater is referring to, and not even sure if he believes this threat is legitimate, Kevin races through traffic and dumps the car in three heart-pounding minutes, narrowly escaping with his life, in one of the most confidently-executed opening chapters I've ever read.

Kevin's childhood friend Samantha soon joins up with him, and these three characters engage in an unending game of cat & mouse, in one insane race-against-the-clock after another. Readers looking for something more than a popcorn action yarn will be intrigued by the atypically smart morality play that soon unfolds, rich with philosophy about the dichotomy between good and evil, that goes well beyond the usual platitudes. Meanwhile, the story keeps you hooked with fully-formed characters that you care about, plot twists galore, and a truly surprising level of overall intelligence.

Dekker makes a lasting impression with his deft handling of the plot, keeping you guessing right up until the very end, crafting his words in a way that make you desperately, breathlessly need to know what happens next. He shows a grasp of the importance of narrative flow, plot structure, and carefully, meticulously layered suspense, that is frankly all-too-rare in Christian fiction.

Trust me: you'll lose massive amounts of sleep over this one, but it will be worth it. Thr3e is just phenomenally well-written, leaving behind the tired, Christianese clichés we've gotten used to, and awakening the senses to just how powerful an artform great storytelling can be.

Why can't they all be this good?

By Robert Parrish