Disclaimer: I voluntarily received a copy of The String, by Caleb Breakey, from Revell. All opinions are my own.
My rating: 2/5
The String is like Criminal Minds mixed with a cop or spy movie. There’s a psychopathic killer who has blackmailed/coerced several people to become members of his “string” and who are forced to do his bidding. Enter plucky university cop Markus Haas, who is determined to stop him, and things start going crazy.
Look, if you like this sort of suspense novel, which is
heavy on violence, psychological horror, and the like, then this book is
definitely for you. It’s a bit long for what is a relatively simple plot, but
Breakey manages to pull a few surprising twists and turns along the way. He
also manages to accomplish the difficult task of making the villain
understandable, but not sympathetic.
There’s a couple of reasons why I rated this book so low.
One is that I simply couldn’t enjoy it. I had to stop watching Criminal Minds for a reason, and it’s
that I can’t handle large doses of darkness. And the way this book is written,
we’re meant to indulge in that darkness a bit; it’s supposed to drive our
enjoyment of a novel, and that really doesn’t sit well with me. There’s only so
much manipulation, violence, and caught-between-rock-and-hard-place moral
dilemmas I can deal with.
Another reason is that I was disappointed that this book is only superficially Christian. Okay, so Stephanie is a Christian in this book, and Haas is sort of thinking about it. Yet Stephanie barely does anything beyond a quick prayer once or twice. This book could have truly delved into the Christian response to this sort of psychopathic evil, and what people do, and all those sorts of interesting moral dilemmas, and I would have loved to see way more prayer, way more Bible reading, and way more appeals to God. Instead we get some occasional mentions and that’s it.
I don’t know, perhaps Breakey didn’t want to be preachy or something. Or maybe his goal was simply to write a suspense book, never mind the religion of the characters. But I felt that there was so much opportunity lost by not having the characters react more in ways that really demonstrated their Christian beliefs.
Warnings: Lots of violence, psychopathy, hints of child abuse