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Saint    by Ted Dekker order for
by Ted Dekker
Order:  USA  Can
WestBow, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Carl Strople isn't sure of what's real. He wakes up tied to a bed and doesn't remember much of anything, except that his wife Kelly is tied up next to him - or is she really his wife? Strange men enter the room, shoot Kelly in the leg, and tell Carl that he must kill two specific people within an hour or they will kill Kelly. And if he thinks of running? The men have implanted a device in Carl's brain and will kill him too. But is this all real, or is it some sort of test?

Carl is being trained as an assassin, and his unique mental abilities have made him one of the best in the world. But Carl doesn't know who he really is, and neither do the men who are attempting to train and control him. Carl needs to break free from those who mean him and the free world harm. But it will take courage to stop plans that have been in motion since the beginning of time.

This is an exciting thrill ride from start to finish. As with most of Ted Dekker's books, however, it's preferable to start at the beginning of the series. The prequel to Saint is Showdown, and to understand the chain of events you really need to read it first. There are also references to books from the Circle series (Red, Black, and White) as well as House (co-written with Frank Peretti) But situations from those books are just briefly mentioned and aren't as critical to the plot as is Showdown.

There is an overall Christian-themed message in Saint, but it's neither preachy nor overt. Nearly all of Dekker's books involve the supreme battle between good and evil, and this one is no exception. Carl is an intriguing character - the brainwashing and uncertainty of his past and his present make him seem like a small child in many respects. This allows both Carl and the reader to take in information in similar ways - like everything he is hearing is new.

The thriller is full of vivid imagery and isn't for the faint of heart or reader looking for a soft-toned inspirational novel. Dekker pushes the envelope with terrifyingly realistic descriptions. The one thing I didn't care for in this book is that it obviously sets up for another sequel. Where Showdown had a concrete ending, Saint just falls apart at the end, leaving a lot open. The romance angle feels forced, not real or necessary. Kelly is almost a mother figure to Carl, rather than a romantic companion.

Overall, fans of Ted Dekker's novels and anyone who likes out of this world adventure will be satisfied with Saint. I'm anxiously awaiting the next novel to see how everything will come together.

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