I just finished reading the suspense thriller Boneman's Daughters by author Ted Dekker. This is the story of a U.S. military intelligence officer, Ryan Evans, who has abandoned his wife Celine and daughter Bethany to fulfill his duty to serve his country in Iraq. One day he is sent out into the field and is captured by a local operative whose goal is to get Ryan to denounce his country's occupation of Iraq for a propaganda film. The technique chosen to mentally break Ryan is macabre. Local children are brought into his presence and slowly tortured. After several children are killed in this manner, Ryan manages to overpower his captor and escape back to his unit. However, his brain is scrambled by what he has experienced. During his imprisonment he comes to the realization that he loves his wife and daughter beyond measure and must be reunited with them.
The military sends Ryan back to his home in Texas to recover. There we are introduced to the satanic Alvin Finch, aka "Boneman". A serial killer who has murdered seven young women by breaking their bones one by one. Ryan is accused of being the Boneman by the local DA who happens to be sleeping with Ryan's wife and who has helped to turn Ryan's daughter against him. In the end, Ryan and his daughter tearfully reconcile after a dramatic rescue and after they torch Boneman to cinders.
I have now read more than a dozen Dekker novels. Although I enjoyed reading this work, it was definitely on a considerably lower plane than all of the others. None of the characters was well developed. Ryan's wife Celine was a nasty witch with no redeeming qualities. His 16 year old daughter Bethany developed a mighty quick and implausible case of Stockholm Syndrome for the mass murderer. The DA and lead FBI agent were underwhelming stock characters. This read like a melodramatic first draft novel from a rookie author, not the crisp, fresh, and compelling work of a seasoned master.