Eve, an old florist, sees an unattractive girl at the high school when she goes to make a delivery, and she can see what the girl thinks of herself. She invites her to visit the next day and promises to make her beautiful. Marci, at first angry about the old woman's insinuation, appears on her doorstep and ends up going inside to hear Eve read a horrible but fascinating story about a war, some soldiers, a priest, and another ugly little girl who finds true beauty. As Marci gets drawn into the story, she finds herself as one of the characters and finds beauty as well.
I've never been terribly impressed with Ted Dekker, though I have read a few of his books. I've usually felt a combination of fear and morbid curiosity as I've read them. One of his more psychologically thrilling books (Adam, I believe it was...) had me so uncomfortable, I couldn't get past the first few pages. This one seemed milder, and it was only a little over 100 pages, so I thought it would be "safer". I found this story to be intriguing and horrifying at the same time. In it, Eve says that everyone finds themselves a character in the story, and I found myself identifying with a few of them. I knew Dekker was writing about the beauty of heaven and the love of Christ, but the book didn't really touch me like I had hoped. I think part of it is my bias toward his writing.
I'll definitely give Dekker another try. I'd like to read The Bride Collector before too long. If it's like Boneman's Daughters, I think I'll like it. If it's like House, that he co-wrote with Frank Peretti, I probably will finish it but not like it immensely. If it's like Adam, I won't finish it.
34. Q Is for Quarry by Sue Grafton
Sue Grafton's "alphabet mysteries" are one of my guilty pleasures. When I first started reading them, I read several in a row before moving on to something else. Now I like to read one every few months or so, but there have been so many other things I've wanted to read, I just now got around to it.
This series follows the investigations of Kinsey Milhone, a twice-divorced 30-something private investigator who lives alone in a tiny apartment belonging to Henry, an 80-something retired baker who writes crossword puzzles for fun. Kinsey has been in all sorts of dangerous situations and always comes out on top, though often injured.
In Q Is for Quarry, Kinsey is hired by a retired police officer and his aging friend to investigate a cold case of murder they happened upon some 20 years earlier. As they work together to fill in the missing pieces to the puzzle, they come upon someone who wants the past to remain buried - and will kill again to keep it that way.
I am finally going to read J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. I'm not sure how long it will take me, but my goal is to finish in September. Is that a little lofty? Maybe October, then.