(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Thr3e opens with a conversation between seminary student Kevin Parson and Dr. John Francis, his philosophy professor and mentor, on the relationship between human nature and evil, the subject of a paper Kevin is writing. They discuss the possibility that all people have an equivalent, inherent capacity to do evil as part of their human nature. Driving home after leaving the seminary, Kevin receives a cell phone call from a stranger identifying himself as Richard Slater, who claims to know what Kevin is hiding and says it is time to expose him. Slater gives him three minutes to confess his sin to the newspapers before Slater blows up the car. He also leaves Kevin with a riddle.

Unaware what sin Slater could mean, Kevin abandons the car just in time to escape the explosion. More bomb threats and riddles follow, always escalating in destructiveness, always with time limitations or clues involving the number three. Kevin contacts his closest friend and soul mate, Samantha, whom he has known since childhood, to visit and help him solve the mystery. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assigns agent Jennifer Peters to the case at her earnest request; the case resembles the pattern of a riddling bomber who killed her brother a year before, and she seeks to avenge his death. With the help of Samantha and Jennifer, Kevin seeks to discover Slater’s identity and motive while they seek to solve his riddles and thwart his explosions.

The second riddle and bomb lead Kevin to visit the home in which he was raised by his Aunt Belinda after his parents’ death—the home he left at his earliest opportunity eight years earlier. The involvement of Kevin’s home arouses memories and emotions associated with the highly abnormal, mentally tortuous first twenty-three years of his life. Though Kevin is too conflicted to...

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(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Byle, Ann. “Christian Author Thrills, Chills Fans: Ted Dekker Has Not Been a Published Author for Long, but His Novels Are Consistent Best-Sellers.” The Grand Rapids Press, May 3, 2003, p. B7. Provides some background on Dekker and his popularity, with key quotations from the novelist.

Dekker, Ted. The author’s Web site offers a brief biography, a list of his other fiction, his Web log, a chat forum about Dekker’s fiction, and features promotional trailers for some of his books and the film adaptation of Thr3e.

Dekker, Ted. The Slumber of Christianity: Awakening a Passion for Heaven on Earth. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2005. Dekker criticizes the Church for its reluctance to pursue pleasure in God and calls the Church—believers in Christ—to awaken to God-centered pleasures in the midst of the darkness and dryness that can dull the spiritual senses to God’s goodness and hinder the Christian from walking in freedom, hope, and joy.

Zaleski, Jeff. Review of Thr3e. Publishers Weekly 250, no. 15 (April 14, 2003): 50. Recommends the novel, noting that Dekker’s “spiritual message is subtle and devoid of the theologically and politically conservative agenda present in other novels.”