Deception: What's the Reader's Take-Away?

DeceptionWritten in the first person detective story style, Deception is a murder mystery featuring Ollie Chandler, a cynical but lovable homicide detective.

While investigating the murder of a college professor, Ollie finds evidence pointing to a horrific conclusion: the murderer is a police detective. Ollie has nagging doubts not only about his colleagues, but himself, since he can’t account for where he was the night of the murder.

Joined by journalists Jake Woods and Clarence Abernathy, central characters in my novels Deadline and Dominion, Ollie is determined to follow the evidence wherever it leads. In the process, he discovers a truth: “Things are not as they appear.”

What will readers take away from Deception? I hope Christian readers will gain a better understanding of and compassion for the non-believer’s mindset, including their skepticism toward us believers.

They’ll gain compassion for the grieving and consider better ways to touch them. They’ll sympathize more with the reasons that drive likeable people to addictions. And they’ll find their faith strengthened as they see the story’s events reinforce God’s providence, justice and grace.

Non-believing readers may need to rethink their view of all Christians as hypocrites whose blind faith leaves them ignorant, insensitive and judgmental.

All readers will be confronted with the reality that there’s an invisible world of realities that affect us every day. They’ll see that life promises what it can’t deliver, and delivers what most of us don’t expect.

I hope readers will gain a new perspective on the causes of suffering and the hidden purposes of pain.

Some readers will find reasons to rethink their views on the existence of truth and moral absolutes. They’ll also face a variety of prejudices and be encouraged to judge individuals on their own merits, not on the basis of their group label. (Examples: all journalists are unscrupulous liberals, all police officers are power-hungry)

In Deception, Heaven and Hell are portrayed as real places. Readers will see the vitality and richness of relationships in Heaven, and the stark loneliness of Hell, a place where those who want nothing to do with God in this life get what they thought they wanted…but find it terrifying.

Ollie Chandler’s stuck in the middle of two overlapping mysteries. The first is why the professor was killed. The second is the mystery of God, and his hidden purposes, which overshadows all lesser mysteries. If God exists, why does He allow suffering and injustice? How can He deserve our faith and trust? And if God doesn’t exist, why are people so angry at Him?

Perhaps the most memorable take-away of Deception is Ollie Chandler himself, and his closest friend, Mulch, his bull mastiff. Ollie’s outwardly jovial and witty, but he struggles inwardly with weighty family losses. I hope readers will feel his pain, as he misses his deceased wife and two alienated daughters, and wrestles with ghosts from his past.

Deception is also a story of friendship, with Jake Woods and Clarence Abernathy, imperfect but loyal, standing beside Ollie.

I hope readers will see that Ollie’s motto “Examine the evidence, and follow wherever it leads” should apply to much more than murder mysteries.

Deception was a fun novel to write, and I hope it’s fun to read. On the one hand it’s serious stuff, involving several murders, grief, loneliness, addiction, anger, and broken relationships. Ollie questions God, and shakes his fist at Him. On the other hand, the book is very light hearted. I hope readers will find themselves repeatedly smiling at Ollie’s endearing qualities and smart-aleck comments.

Deception shows that “church people” sometimes paint a rosy picture of life, glossing over the hurts, and offering shallow sentiment to suffering people. Ollie Chandler won’t buy it, and won’t let the reader buy it either. The God of the Bible speaks to sickness, loss, and pain, and I hope readers will sense in the story the presence of a loving and patient God who offers help and hope to all who ask, seek, and knock.

Deception doesn’t tie everything neatly together. But if in the end Ollie Chandler is left feeling hope, hurting readers might feel the same.

Deception is a spin-off of the first two novels, Deadline and Dominion.

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries