Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Colton Parker Mystery Series

Original Sin (2006), 276 pages
Seventy Times Seven (2006), 276 pages
The Root of All Evil (2007), 288 pages
The Lost Sheep (2007), 288 pages

by Brandt Dodson

Published by Harvest House Publishers

Fired by the FBI and newly widowed, Colton Parker is a private detective who, in the midst of trying to investigate his first case, is also struggling to deal with the single parenthood thrust upon him. His “cowboy” style of justice frequently leads him into more trouble and, all too often, drives him further away from his thirteen year old daughter. What is made evident, throughout these books, is that Parker’s investigations parallel his search for God.

Brandt Dodson has created a unique character for Christian fiction. Perhaps his most unique characteristic is that Colton Parker is not a Christian, nor does he experience the “Damascus” type of conversion that is prevalent in much Christian literature. Yet he is surrounded by people who are taking the “walk across the room” to gently teach him about Christ. He is learning to listen, but is not yet ready to take the message to heart.

The books are detailed, well thought out, and suspenseful. It is clear that the author has connections in law enforcement (see biography following review).

I find the Colton Parker character to be very similar to a famous character in popular literature: Michael Connelly’s Hieronymous (Harry) Bosch. Both characters experienced a similar childhood, growing up in foster homes thus engendering a loner persona. Bosch is a member of the LAPD homicide division and is known for his rough and tumble, going out of the box style of policing—similar to that of Colton Parker. Both Parker and Bosch struggle with personal issues which seem to be the driving force behind their desire to see that justice is served. Thus, showing their very human side.

The big difference is in the telling of their story. Typical of secular literature, the characters in Connelly’s novels find difficulty speaking without lacing the dialogue with profanity. An encounter with a member of the opposite sex usually find the characters in bed. They are not books I would recommend for my fourteen year old daughter.

Conversely, Dodson’s Colton Parker character is definitely imperfect, but the reader doesn’t have to wade through the muck of cursing and bedroom scenes to understand that point.

What we find at the end of the Colton Parker mysteries is a message of hope, a message that is frequently absent in literature today.

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