Ted Dekker is a genius in his own right. Sometimes I feel as if he is vastly unappreciated. He has crafted some of the best stories put into novel in the past decade. His stories are always interesting, gripping, and exciting. Dekker is easily one of the best storytellers of our time. With that said, virtually every Dekker book seems to be lacking something. Every time I read through one of his novels I’m always thoroughly entertained but feel like somehow, someway, the book could have been better. The Priest’s Graveyard is no exception.
This relatively new novel by Dekker tells the story of Danny Hansen, a priest who is also a vigilante serial killer — brutally murdering the scum of society. Along the way, he meets Renee Gilmore who wants revenge on the man who killed her mysterious “husband”. While the concept is interesting and Hansen is easily one of Dekker’s most creative characters, the major flaw of the story is that there is no character to root for throughout much of the story. Its a story of a murderer killing rapists and other murderer’s. Though redemption is found in the end, there isn’t a single good guy — or gal — in the story.
Despite being a very flawed “hero”, Danny Hansen is the highlight of the book. He is arguably the best character that Dekker has ever written. His role was a breath of fresh air from most of Dekker’s characters who, while passable, are hardly memorable. However, Danny is the only great character in the story. Renee is a passable character but almost feels recycled from several other female character’s that Dekker has used in previous books.
The narrative itself is interesting but more simple than artistic. Most of the story is told from Renee’s perspective, telling the events during a confession to a priest. Yet, Dekker at times switches to third person when detailing Danny’s storyline and also briefly gives glimpses in third person from another minor character. If the story was supposed to be the confession of Renee, then there is no way she could detail the third person events in the way that Dekker does. It seems Dekker is “cheating” in order to give a better perspective of the events but by doing so defeats the purpose of Renee’s confession being the perspective of the story.
As a quick word of warning, Dekker has written many of his novels in the “Christian Fiction” market; however, his newer novels are sold in the secular market. Although Dekker still avoids profanity and crude sexual references, this book is quite graphic when it comes to violence and is a much more brutal read than his earlier work and at times just downright disturbing.
All in all, The Priest’s Graveyard is a satisfying read even though, like most Dekker novels, it has its obvious shortcomings. It is fast paced and entertaining. I would recommend it to all Dekker junkies and any fan of thriller or suspense novels.
Content: R for drug use, graphic violence, and some disturbing narrative including brief references to homicide, torture, and rape.