Endorsements and Book Reviews of Deception


In a truly stunning addition to his previous novels Deadline and DominionRandy Alcorn continues his saga of crime, violence, and justice in Portland with his recent mystery Deception. After writing about journalists Jake Woods and Clarence Abernathy in the aforementioned novels, this time finds Alcorn focusing on detective Oliver Justice Chandler, with the Daily Tribune's columnists playing strong supporting character roles in this twisting, turning whodunit.

In Ollie Chandler, Alcorn has nailed the hard-bitten, cynical gumshoe perfectly, joining fellow detectives Joe Box ("Until the Last Dog Dies", "How to Skin a Cat", "When Skylarks Fall by John Laurence Robinson) and Colton Parker ("Original Sin", "Seventy-Times Seven", "Root of All Evil" by Brandt Dodson) in a new wave of detectives who aren't perfect, have problems with their temper, question their faith, and like their firearms, but are also on spiritual quests to find a sense of being. Chandler is immediately likeable as the sarcastic, witty, clever and oftentimes bull-headed detective, and Alcorn does a wonderful job teetering him between a hurting soul that's searching for peace and a man who's seen far too many horrible things to accept faith too quickly.

Chandler's moral and spiritual dilemmas are real and authentic, and Alcorn pulls a daring move more and more CBA authors are willing to risk these days:  though convinced of his need to "follow the evidence, no matter where it leads" when it comes to investigating the claims of Christianity, Ollie remains unsaved at the end, leaving the reader itching for more of the lovable yet sometimes irritating detective, just to see where he ends up.

As a mystery, Deception is top-notch, ending miles away from its starting point, and this is one of those delightful mysteries that flips and flops every time you figure you've gotten the suspect pegged and the crime solved. Alcorn parades a host of likely suspects throughout the novel, and the reader will literally be turning every single page until the end to get to the bottom of this engrossing and absorbing mystery.

The feel of the novel is just right too, right down to the "shady informant standing under a lone streetlight on a darkly lit street" vibes of classic crime and detective novels - only without the collateral smut you'd risk exposing yourself to in some secular mysteries. You're never far from spiritual truth in Deception, but Alcorn is able to weave these truths into the narrative without making it feel like a sermon or Sunday School lesson.

For a clean, engaging, yet honest look into a world of crime, betrayal, hurt - and forgiveness and redemption, add Deception to your mystery collection today.

Kevin Lucia, Crosswalk.com, April 12, 2007

Meet Homicide Detective Ollie Chandler and his bullmastiff mutt, Mike Hammer, otherwise known as Mulch. Chandler, a thirty year police officer in Portland, Oregon, keeps people at bay with cynicism, sarcasm, spiritual skepticism and simmering humor. Even his daughter can’t get close to him.  After the death of his wife, who was also his best friend, Chandler is mad at the world and everyone in it. But, mostly, he’s mad at God. Plenty of long hours, hard work and hard drinking are the only things that keep his sanity in check.

However, that tenuous thread of sanity is challenged when Police Chief Lennox makes a political agreement with the Oregon Tribune to assign reporter Clarence Abernathy to the next homicide investigation. It doesn’t matter that Abernathy is Chandler’s only remaining friend—Abernathy is a journalist and Chandler’s a cop—that’s like mixing oil and water.

When Portland State University Professor—William Paletine is found murdered, Chandler and Dumast are assigned to the case. Hung over and short of sleep, Chandler arrives just in time to spot a Black Jack chewing gum wrapper near the body. Few adults chewed gum anymore—even fewer chewed Black Jack gum because it darkened teeth—but, Chandler chewed that brand every day. Pretending to examine the body, he picked up the wrapper and slipped it into his pocket. He couldn’t remember anything about last night—he’d had another blackout—too much alcohol. Could he have been here? Determined to follow the evidence, Chandler begins an investigation that leads to police corruption, dirty politics, betrayal, and gripping deception.

This well-written police procedural is written in first person and stars an annoyingly loveable cop, similar to the classic Sam Spade detective stories. Alcorn is especially good at dialogue, irony and clever writing that include excellent characterizations, multiple plot twists and creative suspense. A religious thread runs through the plot and Christian values are expressed during breakfast meetings between Chandler and his friends that further develop the characters. However, heavenly scenes feel intrusive and break the story mood.  But, that’s a minor objection to an otherwise exceptionally well-done and intriguing mystery.

Gail Welborn, Seattle Christian Book Review Examiner, July 19, 2009.

The thing that came across the strongest for me in Deception was its uniqueness. It is unlike any other book that I have read. Even Deadline (which is book 1 in the series) was very different to Deception. Also, each book is complete in itself so there is no need to read the books in order. Randy Alcorn has this amazing sense of humour which is littered throughout the pages providing constant entertainment. I also like the way it is written entirely from a man’s perspective; (Ollie Chandler the homicide detective) his personality, character and struggles coming through to make the novel seem more real. It kept me guessing until the very impressive and surprising ending.

The reason why I only gave Deception a 7/10 rating was because I found it very hard to get into until about half way through the book. It could just be a personality clash (like I said earlier, Randy’s way of writing is extremely unique), but for me, it’s like committing suicide if you haven’t been ‘grabbed’ by the book by at least the 2nd chapter. I think most of the introduction was necessary to establish the characters fully, but it did seem slightly too long to do so.

Overall, a great read and I also loved how Randy can’t help but throw in spiritual references (he is after all also the author of The Ishbane Conspiracy and Lord Foulgrin’s Letters) throughout the book. It really made me think, and gave me some great ideas for sharing my faith!

From Rachel Kate, Flannelgraph: Christian Fiction Book Reviews on February 10, 2009.


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