I have been reading so many Clive Cussler novels lately that I think I’ve been numbed to the idea of real mystery in a novel. For whatever reason, I enjoy the simplicity of a Cussler, which allows me to veg a little bit after a long day. Cussler all but spoon-feeds his readers, and there’s very little the reader can’t guess other then, “How will the protagonist win this time?” Recently, however, I’ve longed for a bit more engagement, something that could possibly benefit my life rather than merely spend it. Thus I figured I’d search out a Christian novel by an author I already know.
I’ve enjoyed reading Randy Alcorn before, specifically his great story about the underground church in China, Safely Home, and his magnum opus, Heaven. Recalling these two books, I was excited to try Deadline, though I had no clue what to anticipate. As it turns out, Deadline is a medical mystery that touches on key social issues of the mid-90s, specifically the ethical voids surrounding violent pro-lifers attacking abortionists, the unanswered questions about organ donations, and the greed that sometimes informs life-changing decisions within hospital governments. While none of these issues have been hot on my mind recently, I do always want to know more about areas where I know very little. I enjoy having knowledge a mile long, even if only an inch deep, and that’s what Alcorn’s book has done for me with regards to the state of medicine in the mid-90s.
The story itself was interesting. Alcorn adds a surprising subplot, that of a dead Christian who goes to Heaven and begins exploring the unimaginable beauties that await us all. Because of this subplot, I was anticipating the book to be more of a spiritual drama than anything, and so was actually quite surprised to find that the car accident which killed both of Jake’s friends wasn’t really an accident at all but murder! This twist in the plot really got me excited to read on, and I’m very glad I did.
Alcorn’s writing reminded me a lot of Frank Peretti, though Alcorn’s characters were far more believable and his spiritual subplot—a bit like that of Ted Dekker—was far more deeply rooted in Scripture. In fact, having already read his book on Heaven, I was super excited to see one of his characters experience firsthand all that his non-fiction book would later describe. The pregnancy and AIDS infection of Jake’s daughter seemed a bit melodramatic, and I bet he could have found a better or easier way to rebuild this broken family, but it is what it is. I won’t let this one drop of sap spoil the book.
I’m not sure if his other books like Dominion follow the same characters or not, but I’ll be interested in searching them out. I really enjoyed this step away from my norm, and I recommend the book to anyone looking for a nice slow-paced medical mystery from a Christian perspective.