This is a book that's been floating around at work for a while now, and has been much discussed by those who've read it, while I've stuck my fingers in my ears going "La la la la" because I don't want to know what happens. I did accidentally hear one spoiler, so I thought I'd better read it while I was away, before somebody spills the entire plot.
One thing I'll say for my much-loved work colleagues is that they're a gruesome bunch. The Bride Collector is about a serial killer who drills holes in his victims' heels until they bleed to death and then glues them to a wall. This is not a nice little tale. The FBI chappie in charge of catching the madman is Brad Raines, who was devastated by his girlfriend's suicide some years before and has never quite got over it. When the killer leaves a note at the scene of one of his killings, it leads Brad and his partner to a mental institution for the highly intelligent, where they meet an assortment of oddball characters who use very unconventional methods to help crack the case.
This is where the book deviates quite dramatically from the usual serial killer novel. First, it requires huge effort on the part of the reader to suspend disbelief. Would an FBI agent really consult a bunch of mental patients to help him catch a serial killer? Especially a bunch like this, which consists of a fragile agoraphobic psychic who can see visions by touching the victim's body, a man who thinks he's Sherlock Holmes, a cheerleader type who's addicted to numbers and frequent bathing, and a lecherous slimeball who calls himself Cassanova. The foursome have some very weird conversations that are obviously supposed to provide light relief, but I thought the whole thing more than a little strange.
The other way in which this differs from the norm is in the amount of romance. Usually a thriller will have a little bit of romance thrown in, but this one starts to sound more like a Mills and Boon novel in places. This is not necessarily a complaint; I just found it unusual, particularly in a thriller by a male author. However, this book does deliver in the thrills department. It's full of twists and turns and does manage to get the adrenaline pumping towards the end. The villain is revealed early on, so we are privy to his thoughts and feelings as well as the hero's, which makes for exciting reading when the two are desperately trying to outwit each other.
This was the first Ted Dekker novel I had read and, though I found it decidedly odd in places, overall I enjoyed it and wouldn't mind reading another of his books in the future.