The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker

The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker ©2011, Hatchette

When he was a child in Bosnia, Danny Hansen’s mother was raped and murdered by an evil soldier.  Danny exacted revenge on the soldier, but didn’t stop there.  He came to America and began murdering powerful people who didn’t behave according to his moral code.  This was after Danny became a priest, by the way.  Not a likeable guy, or character.

Renee Gilmore was a heroin addict who owed her drug dealer money.  When the dealer was on the verge of doing nasty things to Renee in lieu of debt, a stranger swooped in to save her.  The stranger was Lamont, who took Renee under his wing, got her healthy, became her lover, and taught her very strictly how to cook for him and keep fastidiously clean his home which he never allowed Renee to leave.  She thought Lamont loved her.  Renee is an idiot.

When her beloved Lamont disappears, Renee instantly assumes he is dead, and sets out to find his killer.  This leads her, remarkably quickly, to Danny, who teaches Renee how to be an assassin like himself.  The recipe for love between Danny and Renee is thus mixed.  Renee kills a couple of innocent people in her search for Lamont’s killer, who turns out after all to be Danny, who knew Lamont by another name when he targeted him for judgment.  So now Renee thinks she has to kill Danny.

Danny decides he will let Renee kill him because he has begun to see that his murderous judgment of others is making him no better than the people he kills.  Really?!  Danny helps Renee realize Lamont was just using her for sex and maid service and didn’t truly love her.  Really?!  This book was like Morality For Dummies.

Graveyard had some good story notions.  The characters were conflicted internally as well as with each other.  The conflicts were just so elemental (Should I, a priest, kill people I disagree with?  Should I kill the man I love because he showed me I made a mistake?) that the characters came off as unbelievable or so incredibly un-self-aware you couldn’t care less what happened to them.

The book was good for one belly laugh, when Renee compared herself to Sheen’s Capt. Willard in Apocalypse Now! as she anticipated killing Danny, her equivalent of Brando’s Col. Kurtz.  Danny couldn’t hold an intellectual or introspective candle to Kurtz, and neither could Renee to Willard.  These two weren’t bright enough to be errand boys for grocery clerks.  And Graveyard is buried in my recycling bin.

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