Wineskins Archive

January 20, 2014

Book Review: Kiss By Dekker Healy

Filed under: — @ 7:16 pm and

by Alan Cochrum
May – June, 2009

By Ted Dekker and Erin Healy
Thomas Nelson, $24.99

When it comes to smooching, Shauna McAllister doesn’t just take your breath away. No, it can be much, much more than that.

“The first time Shauna kissed Wayne, still reeling from her father’s rejection, she felt nothing. Nothing except perhaps the hope that something might come of it. Eventually.

“This time, when his mouth connected with hers, Shauna blacked out.

“The sensation of floating in cool water carried her out from under the shade and into a black sky dotted with more stars than she had ever seen from the Austin hillsides. The night was so still, so silent, that the sound of her own breath was a distraction.

“It muffled what she was straining to hear: the sound of imminent death.”

And in Ted Dekker and Erin Healy’s thriller Kiss, that sound is always a whisper in the background, threatening to become all too audible and present.

Shauna is the daughter of U.S. Sen. Landon McAllister, founder and president of the highly successful company McAllister MediVista and now a candidate for the White House. But the McAllisters’ own house has been none too stable for years, since the death of Landon’s wife after giving birth to Shauna’s brother, Rudy:

“My father said it was God’s fault, though he seemed to blame Mama’s passing on me,” recalls Shauna, who resembles her mother. “I guess I was the more tangible target. …

“I’m twenty-eight now, and I have long since realized that the wounds of rejection do not heal with time. They reopen at the lightest touch, as deep as the first time they were inflicted. …

“The pain, even when I can successfully numb it, has kept me at a distance from God. Now and then I consider the irony of this: how it came to be that my mother’s God, who once seemed so real and comforting to me, managed to die when she did.”

But now Shauna has problems even more serious than her estranged father and her abusive stepmother. In the wake of a car accident – a wreck that occurred on the heels of a confrontation with Landon laced with the possibilities of monstrous wrongdoing on the senator’s part – Shauna awakens from a mysterious six-week coma to find her beloved brother injured, months missing from her memory and elusive threats enveloping her.

What really caused her accident? Why was there evidence of Ecstasy in her system that night? What was her relationship with the beguiling Wayne Spade? What are the motives of the journalists in the background? Most of all, what are the visions that begin to plague Shauna – images of events in which she participates but does not recall from her own life?

And in the shadows are hidden watchers with cloaked motives. “What if she remembers?” one asks another.

“If she remembers,” comes the reply, “she dies.”

Kiss asks: If the past is painful, perhaps even lethally dangerous, is it wise to leave it buried and move on? Or should one keep dealing with the hurt in the hope of using it to build one’s future?

A housekeeper named Luang Khai tells Shauna of her agony after her husband sold their baby for liquor money: “I had heard of a missionary in our village who was said to help people forget the darkness of their past. … His God could cut it off and replace it with hope. …

“When I told him and his wife what I wanted, they should have laughed at me, but they didn’t. Instead they told me that my past was not something God wanted to amputate. He wanted to cast a new light on it so that my life could have new meaning. He wanted to restore it so that it would become useful to him and to others. If I tried to deny that shadow in my life, the truth of it would be useful to no one.”

William Faulkner once wrote that the past is never dead – it’s not even past. Dekker and Healy have used that theme to craft a swift-moving, involving thriller that satisfies but doesn’t fall into the trap of tying up everything in an overly tidy package.

Alan Cochrum

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