November 3, 2012

All Things Revealed

I chose the novel All Things Hidden (2004) by JudyCandis because of the title, which is from 1 Corinthians 4:5, and I was prepared to reject it because of the Biblical reference. At the same time, I wondered how a religious theme would play out in a police procedural novel. I’m not antireligious, but when I sense a religious motif in a crime novel, I cringe because I feel I’m about to be preached at. Is it possible to write a such a novel without seeming to preach. Maybe, but Candis has failed to do so.

Candis introduces the motif of Christian faith in the opening scene. The protagonist enters a crack house where body has been found and has a moment of panic despite her faith in God:
God had not given her the spirit of fear. Jael knew this like she knew there were sixty-six books in the Bible. She knew this like she knew the exact hour and second that she accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior. More important, she knew this like she knew God's Word was eternal and true. Yet the pounding of her heart was so rapid, so pro­found, it threatened to burst through her rib cage.
Jael Reynolds, the only Black female in the police department of Dadesville, Florida, is the lead detective in the investigation of the killings of three drug dealers. It appears dealers are being target, and she speculates that it might be a war among them. She also speculates that it might be a serial killer or a Black vigilante taking the law into his own hands. Her investigation puts her and her son in jeopardy as she gets closer to discovering the killer and the diabolical motive.

All Things Hidden is a novel Christians may well enjoy because of the motif of a woman of faith who, with the help of God, defeats the forces of evil. To make sure the point of the novel is not missed, the narrator reminds the reader that Jael is "in the clutches of a serious spiritual battle. Warfare at the highest level." She is named after the warrior woman who helped “the Israelites in battle by nailing their enemy king’s head to the ground” (Book of Judges, 4:17-23).

All Things Hidden reminded me of the story of Job, who never wavered in his faith. Jael is put through many trials and at times wonders if God hears her prayers. After a while, the repetition of her internal battle with her faith, altering between feelings of doubt and confirmation, becomes tedious and at times slows the action. The novel reads like a book on how to write a novel: put the heroine in one dangerous situation after another.

All Things Hidden didn’t encourage me to read Candis’s other three novels, but if you, dear reader, enjoy stories with religious themes, then you might enjoy Colorblind (1998), Still Rage (2001), and Blood Offering (2002).


Kelly Robinson said...

I'm not a fan of religious themes in my crime fiction --or any fiction, really. Thanks for the warning.

Louis A. Willis said...

I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my lack of taste for religious themes.