On his way home one day he receives a mysterious phone call from a low, gravely voice that identifies itself only as "Slater." Kevin must confess his sin in three minutes or bad things will start to happen. In company with those cryptic instructions, he's given a riddle to solve -- "What falls, but never breaks? What breaks, but never falls?"
Thus begins a twisted adventure that embroils Kevin deeper and deeper in a web of terror and intrigue that grows more dangerous with every move. Attractive FBI agent Jennifer Peters and Kevin's childhood playmate Samantha Sheer delve further into Kevin's life and past as they race against time to find out what is going on, and how to stop Slater before time runs out.
Who is Slater really? Why is he obsessed with threes? And just what is the sin that he insists Kevin confess to the world?
I picked up this book for three dollars at a homeschool conference, and read it through in a weekend. It keeps your interest from page one with a very sympathetic protagonist, high stakes, and a neverending web of mystery and danger that seems impossible to unravel. The main character is actually one of the best literary protagonists I've seen in a long time. The twist at the end was shocking and completely unexpected, something I love in an ending.
While the story revolves around ideas about good and evil, and is about a seminary student, it's not really an overtly Christian book, though there are many references to God. I personally thought that the religion was handled quite well, and that the theme was sufficiently thought-provoking to be worthwhile, if you're looking for a traditional Christian book with clear-cut biblical messages and a touching conversion scene, you'll be disappointed. This isn't your typical Christian novel.
I had a hard time grasping the theme until the very end, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I might have enjoyed it better if I had more time to ponder the message and let it grow on me throughout the book. I also found myself just slightly dissatisfied with the ending, although it was tinged with the good kind of dissatisfaction -- being sorry that the journey is over. But it's possible Dekker intended to leave his readers feeling a little disillusioned; a bit unsure. All is not as it seems in this story, and the characters force readers to examine themselves, and humanity as a whole. Are we really what we think we are?
As far as content, the story is clean. There is no sexual content, no language, though Slater and some low-lifes use crude and gritty slang and insults. Several bombs go off, and one character is shot in the foot and the leg, but there's little real physical violence. Most of the disturbing content of the story is psychological; Slater's threats and dirty mind, the way he plays with Kevin throughout the story, his consistent pure evil, and the strange darkness of Kevin's bizarre upbringing.
I've heard many state that the story is too gimmicky, that the ending is forced for shock value rather than having real meaning, but I think that is primarily a matter of taste. It's my favorite of Dekker's books that I've read so far, and I'm looking forward to picking up more of his thrillers. If you don't like major twists and intense psychological tension, then this certainly isn't the book for you. But if you enjoy a clean, well-written thriller, then I'd recommend Thr3e for some very enjoyable reading.