Deception is the first book of Randy Alcorn's that I've had the joy of reading. How did he pass under my radar for so long?
Deception is easy to read and keeps the reader on the edge of his seat. This book was the first in a very long time that I didn't want to put down. I lost hours of sleep as I turned page after page. I'm an avid reader (I read as many as ten or more books in a month) so my saying that Deception held my interest to where I cringed when the clock struck the midnight hour (I have to be up very early in the morning to get to work) is a compliment that says bunches.
Deception is an intriguing story that follows Homicide Detective Oliver Justice Chandler as he tries to untangle the twists and turns surrounding the death of an unpopular professor. If that isn't enough, Chandler struggles with many problems in his own life such as alcoholism, mending a relationship with his estranged daughter, his general dislike for journalists, and having to question himself when some of the clues point to him. His closest compadres, who happen to be journalists (an additional conflict) are relentless in their determination to introduce Jesus to the heart-hardened Chandler, who blames God for the death of his wife. To me (as a Christian first and a career crime fighter second), Alcorn described the personality and thoughts of a cop perfectly.
I will most certainly read more of Alcorn's books and, after reading Deception in record-breaking time, I'm sure each one will not disappoint.
— Steven Hunt, author and blogger
I usually avoid modern Christian fiction, simply because most of it tends to be brain-deadening fluff with little or no spiritual substance. Thankfully, however, there are exceptions. And Randy Alcorn’s crime thriller Deception is one of them.
Oliver Chandler is a veteran homicide detective whose rule of thumb is: “Things are often not what they appear.” He’s seen more than he’d care to admit, done more than he’d care to admit. But when he’s called to investigate the grisly murder of a well-known professor
at Portland State University, he finds himself going places he never expected – or wanted – to go.
As he digs deeper, Chandler becomes increasingly certain that the killer is someone in his own department. And that’s not even the worst of it; because whenever he tries to remember where he was during the time of the murder, his mind draws a complete blank.
Joined by journalist Clarence Abernathy and their friend Jake Woods, Chandler continues the investigation, determined to unearth the truth, no matter how ugly it is. And the farther in they go, the deadlier the game becomes.
Deception is part of a “series” of thrillers (the other two being Dominion and Deadline), but it can be read independently. It has a lightning-fast pace, yet never feels rushed or skimpy. There’s actually something to chew on, something to think about. Alcorn manages to incorporate solid, biblical themes into the story without making them feel tacked on. Meaty reflections about God, justice, sin, and redemption all flow naturally from the characters and from the plot. They never feel pretentious or out of place. And that, in and of itself, is an excellent achievement, if you ask me.
The story is completely engrossing, with multifarious twists and turns; and best of all, there’s a gritty realism to it that makes it thoroughly believable. Alcorn must have done his homework. Plenty of it. Because not only does the story feel real, so do the characters involved. No cardboard, one-dimensional heroes and cheesy villains here. Each person is multi-faceted, interesting, and unique. Particularly Ollie Chandler. He’s a troubled man, angry at God and himself, struggling with the idea that there’s any real meaning in life. His philosophy is simple: there is no justice, there’s just us. The reader can feel his grief and hardened cynicism, and yet rejoice as his eyes are gradually opened to the truth of the gospel. He’s someone you can genuinely sympathize with, and genuinely root for.
Another thing that makes Chandler such a great character is his unflagging (and often grim) sense of humor. Years of active duty with Portland Homicide has given him an tough, no-nonsense nature, but he still retains a funny bone. As he casually observes on one occasion, “Messin’ with me is like wearin’ cheese underwear down rat alley.” In other words, not too smart.
Deception is a crime thriller, folks, which means it’s definitely a book I’d only recommend for very mature readers. Though he never resorts to language or sexuality, Alcorn tackles some extremely dark and edgy subject matter related to the seedy underworld. There are numerous references to drugs and immoral behavior, as well as detailed descriptions of bloody crime scenes. And the violence, while never gratuitous, is pervasive and often brutal.
So, if you’re in search of an above-averege suspense story that is edifying to both mind and soul, read this one. It’s one of your best options, without a doubt. I’ve gone through it twice now, and it was just as exciting and satisfying the second time around.
— InkSlinger, wordpress.com blogger
In a truly stunning addition to his previous novels Deadline and Dominion, Randy 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.