Friday, November 13, 2009

BoneMan's Daughters - Ted Dekker (audio)



As I mentioned in my review of The Angel's Game, when I finished the audio, I was so twisted, I bailed on a feel-good audio about 15 minutes into it. And I turned instead to BoneMan's Daughters. Nothing like going from one demented story to the next. I'd never read anything written by Dekker before, but was open to his experience. After all, I knew he'd been influenced by Stephen King, when he'd read The Stand in 8th grade (the exact age I read that same masterpiece.) I liked the sound of this guy.

I tend to be picky when it comes to my murder mysteries. I've read thousands of them in my day, so they really have to do something special and memorable to stand apart from the "masses". And these days, the "masses" seem to be bent on outdoing each other. Your standard mother-hating, religious fanatic that carves up his victims and eats them doesn't cut it anymore (pardon the pun!). It seems that each serial murder just gets more and more outlandish. Which, in part, is what I found here. But I am getting ahead of myself.

In this story, we have a career military intelligence guy, Ryan Evans, who had a life-shattering experience as a prisoner in Iraq. Determined to live his life on the straight and narrow after he is rescued, he runs back to Texas to shower love and gifts on his wife and daughter, who he had abandoned years ago. No real shocker, the girls aren't buying what he's selling. Wife is in love with somebody else and wants a divorce, and the daughter wants nothing to do with him.

While this is all happening, a madman is on the loose. Dubbed BoneMan, he captures young girls and methodically breaks all of their bones without breaking the skin, causing the victims to die of internal bleeding. For a variety of reasons I won't go into, he sets his sights on Evans' daughter, and then incites Evans to commit BoneMan-ish crimes to prove his love for his daughter, putting Evans on the wrong side of the law.

First, let's talk about the characters. I didn't really connect with any of them. I tried! Evans must be some kind of schmuck to think he can abandon his family for over a decade and expect to be able to talk his way back into their lives. I don't care if his heart IS in the right place. Evans' estranged wife is a floozie and is self-centered, and his daughter was a teenager with an attitude. I found myself annoyed with all of them and their theatrics. BoneMan (aka Alvin, who we are introduced to halfway through the book) is your uber-freak. He hates his mother, he is a religious nut, and is on a mission to find the perfect "daughter". If she doesn't measure up, he cracks all their bones, similar to a crucifixion. He shaves his body and lathers himself with Noxema lotion. Pretty formulaic.

Plotwise, Dekker gave us a few unique unforeseeable twists, which I loved. More than a few raised eyebrows on my part, which is always a good sign. However, I'm sure that most of you could predict the end without breaking a sweat. We get good insight on Evans, his background in the military, and his reality check in the Middle East. We don't get all that much background on Alvin, though. We get peripheral glimpses of Ricki Valentine, an FBI agent with a soft heart, and the pompous Austen D.A. who has snagged Evans' wife's attention.

Overall, a fairly unsatisfying but mildly entertaining yarn. It was probably to this novel's detriment that I just recently read "The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo", which will not be soon forgotten. Unfortunately, by the end of this book, I was ready to move on. Will I give another Ted Dekker book a try? Absolutely. Anybody that loves Stephen King is alright by me!

2.5 out of 5 stars


15 comments:

Melody said...

Hmm...I've read a few good reviews on this, but funnily I just don't have the urge to go out and buy it. Now after reading your review, I'm glad I didn't. :P

Alice Teh said...

I wanted to buy this book but is waiting for the paperback version to be out. I think I'll give this a miss.

farmlanebooks said...

Sorry to hear that this was a disappointement. I find it hard to find a good mystery - I think we just read too many! Try Little Face by Sophie Hannah - I bet you won't predict the ending for that one!

caite said...

I read one other book by Dekker and..it was ok. Like you, I have read so many mystery/thrillers that to get my attention a serial killer has to have something special.

as odd as that may sound...

Beth F said...

I haven't read any Dekker yet, but I recently bought a YA novel of his.

Amy said...

I've never read a book by Dekker and this sounds like one I'll pass on. I like murder mysteries a lot but as you said, there are so many now ands I've read so many that I like something unique and different. I also have a personal bias against this one - having broken many, many bones in my life, the thought of someone intentionally breaking another person's bones makes me shudder. I don't know that I can read a book in which it was a regular part of the crimes committed by the evil one.
Thanks for a wonderfully honest Review, Sandy, as always another great one :o)

Ti said...

I listened to this one on audio too and the reader sucked!! His female voices wore me down. I wanted them all to die and that probably isn't what I should have been feeling at the time.

Anna said...

I haven't read this one, but I've read other books by Dekker and enjoyed them.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Iliana said...

I haven't read this author but was curious. I don't have a problem with serial killer stories but what I really don't like is when you feel the author is just writing for shock factor. Sometimes the less said the better - your mind can certainly conjure up some scary stuff right? :)

I may try one of his books one day but not in a rush.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Melody - Probably the best idea. There are plenty of really good murder mysteries out there...

Alice - I hate to condemn the book. I mean, maybe the hard book is better than the audio?

Jackie - Now that you mention it, I remember you talking about this book. I love clever twists! I'm off to look it up!

Caite - I truly know exactly what you mean. There has to be something more than just shocking gore and sick and twisted bad guys. I've read so many of those, they all blur together.

Beth - well strangely, I think he does dabble in religious fiction and YA. Kind of a jump, but maybe his other stuff is more original.

Amy - the bone breaking thing was pretty brutal. In your case, I would advise to walk away from this one. I've broken a couple in my life, but this part of the story didn't really bother me.

Ti - you are right, he wasn't the best I've ever heard, by a long shot.

Anna - I've heard good reviews of his books in the past. I don't know if I'm just being picky, or this book isn't one of his best.

Iliana - yeah, you read alot of these so you know where I'm at with this. I don't need shock value, I need originality and creativity. Breaking people's bones, hating his mother, and being a religious zealot doesn't cut it.

Carrie K. said...

I haven't read this one, so don't know what I'd think, but if you want to try another Dekker, give Three a try - it's fantastic.

bermudaonion said...

Sorry this didn't work for you. I wonder if you would have enjoyed it more in print because it creeped me out.

Literate Housewife said...

I really liked this review, Sandy. I enjoyed the novel a lot, but I'm not someone intimate with the genre. What's been done a hundred thousand times before is going to slip by me easily.

What did you think about the Noxema? That's what really, really got to me.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

Like you, I found this one fairly predictable. It wasn't bad, but wasn't anything amazing either...

Sandy Nawrot said...

Carrie - OK, I will! This guy isn't a bad writer, so I will give it a shot.

Kathy - you may be right. The reader didn't really have the mojo.

Jennifer - I wasn't really a fan of Noxema before, but now I would not touch it with a ten foot pole. Ugh.

Melissa - bingo. You hit the nail on the head.