Christian novelist Dekker offers a mainstream novel featuring a soulless serial killer, a top Naval Intelligence officer and a 17-year-old aspiring model in a tale set in Austin, Texas.
Ryan Evans, a career officer, finds himself imprisoned while serving in Iraq by a man who wants to teach him a lesson on war. In a room with photos of children killed in a bombing plastered to the walls, his captor gives the officer an edict: Evans must hand over his wife and child back in the United States or watch a succession of Iraqi children die by having their bones slowly broken. Evans manages to break free and return to the base, but not before witnessing several children suffer this horrible fate. The experience profoundly affects him. Returning home, Evans tries to reestablish his life with his estranged wife, Celine, and daughter, Bethany, an aspiring model. But while Evans was serving his country, Celine and Bethany have moved on. Celine has found another man—District Attorney Burt Welsh—and she wants out of her marriage. As for Bethany, she simply wants nothing to do with her father, but none of that matters when the BoneMan strikes again. BoneMan—so named for his method of killing young female victims by breaking their bones without breaking their skin—haunted Texas for years, then abruptly stopped for two years (coincidentally, it’s the same amount of time that Evans has been absent from the area). Populated by characters who relentlessly review everything they know about the case but never develop into people the reader will care about, Dekker’s story is lightly and improbably plotted. Many moments in the book seem to exist only as space-fillers, and there’s one implausible plot twist after another.
Dekker’s villain—who is addicted to Noxzema skin cream—is almost likable compared to his victims and the other characters, all of whom overthink every action in this less-than-thrilling tale that might hit the mark with Dekker fans but will leave most readers begging for mercy.