Friday, February 6, 2015

To Kill With Reason

Ted Dekker has published more than three dozen novels over the past 15 years or so and I have pretty much read them all. During this time, he has also released several works strictly as promotional items. One of which was his Blood Book that was borne of his Circle series efforts. Another item was a full novel called To Kill With Reason. The novel was actually a rough first draft of his 2002 book Thunder of Heaven. The story is essentially a Rambo knock off, with Rambo replaced by an American boy whose family operates a coffee plantation in Venezuala. The boy's family is slaughtered by a drug lord who takes over the plantation to set up his operation. The boy escapes and then comes back some 10 years later a fully trained but untamable killing machine.

In Dekker's foreword he tells the story of how he expected his manuscript to be snatched up by some eager publisher. The book would then rocket to the top of the best-sellers list and make him a household name. However, the book was rejected by everyone that he submitted it to. Ultimately, after he licked his wounds, he worked to reshape it and reform it. Reading this manuscript as an outsider, it is certainly paced well and is woven throughout with Dekker's usual styles, but the book is crude, unsophisticated, and raw. Under the hand of a skilled editor, Dekker began to learn how to cut out the good and the O.K. to get to the better.

My experience with Dekker is that for every top-notch book that he writes, he churns out one of decidedly uninspired, mass-market pablum. However, I read To Kill with Reason not so much for the story, but to get a peek at a rough first draft from a young novelist to get some measure as to how he had grown into his craft. I definitely enjoyed my time reading through this one from a more technical, academic aspect.

P.S. Note that the cover art lists the author as Thomas Hunter. For those of you who have not read any of Dekker's books, Thomas Hunter is the protagonist in his Circle series books. It turns out that he mentions To Kill With Reason in his book Black ... ahh circles within circles within circles ...