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by Ted Dekker

Obsessed by Ted Dekker



  • "Obsessed" by Ted Dekker

    All his life, Stephen Friedman has told himself that he cared about little. An orphan of Hitler's pogroms, he has grown up in loving foster families, but foster families they have been. In the back of his mind he has always been curious about the woman who birthed him and how she came to give him up, but he has kept his curiosity bottled up deep down inside for fear that to let it out is to be disappointed.

    Now, Stephen is a successful L.A. realtor, about to broker a deal worth several hundred thousand dollars. His good friend Chaim, a messianic Jew who Stephen calls "Rabbi" is plotting a romance between Stephen and Sylvia, a shining new star in the DA's office. Things are looking good for Stephen . . .

    Until he is shown the story of an elderly Jewish woman who has recently passed away, leaving a fortune to a local museum, including a "Stone of David" (according to legend, one of the stones David picked from the brook before slaying Goliath). Her obituary includes the note that she had immigrated to America in search of the son she gave up during the war. Stephen is convinced he is that son and it becomes an obsession to find out if he is the son of this rich but reclusive Jewish woman. One obsession leads to another until Stephen finds himself trotting the globe, in search of what he's not entirely sure, except that it will hopefully give his life meaning.

    "Obsessed" is a modern-day (OK, circa 1973) retelling of one of the parables of Jesus. I can't tell you which one without giving away too much of the plot. It is a page turner that will keep the reader going (and going and going) as Stephen's obsession becomes the reader's.

    It is Stephen's obsession (and the obsession of the protagonist Roth Braun) that will engage the reader, for neither of these two leads are particularly likable people. Roth Braun exudes evil from the very beginning and never shows the least glimmer of goodness, while Stephen is a confused and somewhat self-absorbed young man whose acts of kindness seem to come as a surprise to him more than anyone else.

    I have a gripe against this novel, sort of. I am not sure, because it is possible that Dekker has done this on purpose to show the level of the obsessions involved. My gripe is that Stephen seems to be presented with several "outs" through the story but never takes them. Some of the earlier ones are missed because of plot devices that need to happen later, but there are so many of them that I came think that either a] Dekker had a minimum page count he was shooting for; b] it was to show the level of obsession and (for this reader) was overdone; or c] Stephen Friedman's not the sharpest quill on the porcupine. Like the Tommy Lee Jones character in "The Fugitive", for every brilliant deduction he makes, he counters it with a bonehead move. So, as an action hero (and this is an action novel that more than once had me reading fast to see what would happen next) Stephen Friedman is less Indiana Jones and more Barney Fife (without the charm or savoir faire).

    Most of the principals in this novel are people of Jewish ancestry. While it is only specifically stated that one of them is messianic (though there are hints that a couple of the others may have become so), they all seem to have a good grasp of the parable of Jesus in question. I kept wondering about that: Why would a bunch of European Jews (circa WWII) make reference to a Christian parable? This question doesn't detract from the book, but is one of those things which—as Arsenio Hall used to say—make you go, "Hmmmm."




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Other Recommendations from Best Christian Fiction

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