I have just read the first book in Ted Dekker's Martyr's Song series, Heaven's Wager. This was Dekker's first novel and was borne out of the pain, confusion, and hurt caused by the sudden death of his brother. However, unlike some of his more recent production-line, gimmicky works, this was a layered and intricate tale of love and, ultimately, redemption.
The story begins as a top-notch software engineer, Kent Anthony, has just developed a system that will revolutionize how major international banks handle and process their accounts. The program will save his employer tens of millions of dollars over the next decade. Due to an employee reward program, he is entitled to 10% of the projected savings. Suddenly Kent, his wife Gloria, and their son Spencer are about to embark on a new life of great wealth. Kent travels from Denver to the grand unveiling of his work in Miami. His star is on the rise and set to rocket him to unimagined levels of power and glory. However, just as he is checking into his hotel, he receives an urgent message to return home immediately as his wife has fallen quite ill. At this moment, Kent's life begins to unravel at a sickening pace. He hastens back home to find that his wife has died. Shortly thereafter, he finds that his bosses at work have stolen full credit for his masterwork and shut him out of the performance bonus to line their own pockets. Then just a few weeks later, his son is killed in a freak accident.
Kent grows more and more despondent and frustrated. He knew his wife and son had a special bond with each other and with God. Due to their brutal and sudden deaths, Kent develops a bitterness to even the notion of a god. This bitterness fuels Kent to plot revenge against those that cheated him. It also spurs him to turn against his mother-in-law Helen, who also walks very closely with God. The story is beautiful, clever, and complex. The notion of "Heaven's Wager" is a parallel story to Job. However, the wager between Satan and God involves the saving of an unrighteous man. But it is not just about the battle for one man's soul. We are all caught in this struggle between heaven and hell. Now, I eagerly look forward to the second book in this series, When Heaven Weeps.