Published by Outlaw Studios on September 2010
Genres: Fiction, Suspense
Rough and messy, one can see why Thomas Hunter buried this novel after having it rejected multiple times. Read this novel for the novelty, not for the story. See where Dekker's genius began and, hopefully, be inspired to write your own stories.
Note: In 2010, Ted Dekker gave away PDF copies of his first-ever unpublished novel, To Kill With Reason. The book was mentioned as being the work of Thomas Hunter in the Circle series, so it was released under that name. This review is written in the world of the Circle.
It was with a mixture of excitement and fear that I opened the brown paper-bound package, not sure if I could trust the letter that had been tucked under the thin twine and held the package together. Here’s something special…I knew you’d like it. – The Historian, Ted Dekker
I would have doubted the letter’s sincerity had it not been for the wax seal keeping the letter closed. I knew this symbol. The Circle. But what was this package, and how did it end up here? It had no stamps, no address, and just merely sat on my porch, like a ticking time bomb ready to explode.
I pulled away the twine and carefully unwrapped the package. A book. Manuscript form…just a bunch of pages piled together, no binding at all. The pages were creased and yellowed, spotted with water marks and crinkled on the corners. I took out the first page, shook off the dust, and read.
To Kill With Reason by Thomas Hunter
The Thomas Hunter?! I considered the note that went along with the book. Dekker had chronicled Hunter’s story in a series of history books he called The Circle.
He had made mention of Hunter’s past as a failed novelist before he became…well…the Thomas Hunter. If I remember correctly this would have been the first novel he wrote, the second being Superheroes in Super Fog. This was truly historic. But that fact barely registered, because I was already sifting through pages, anxious to get to the story.
Kevin Richardson has a dark and troubled past to go with his dark and troubled present. Now he’s a freelance hitman—a killer, if one was to use the crass term—for the CIA, having carried out 24 hits in his 4 years working with the organization. In his past, he was the American son of coffee plantation farmers living in Venezuela. And when the drug lords had decided that his parents property was better suited to growing cocaine, they gruesomely murdered them, leaving Kevin to barely escape. Now it’s revenge that drives him. To kill those who kill. To Kill With Reason. Hunter weaves an intriguing plot of under the table international relations, Islamic extremism, and a cartel leader who wants it all. When Kevin defects from the CIA and goes after the cartel leader who killed his parents, he will uncover a much larger plot…one that could kill millions. The fate of the world just might lie within the soul of this tortured jungle boy.
After reading it, one can pinpoint all the reasons why Hunter was a failed novelist: storylines are not well fleshed out, events happen out of left field, characters act out of character, clichéd dialogue…not often, just not enough for it to work flawlessly. But perhaps it was fate that caused this, for it put him on the path to be in that alleyway when the single silenced bullet that changed everything crashed over his head and assured his part in the annals of history.
But despite its roughness, To Kill With Reason shines like an uncut gem to give us insight into Thomas Hunter’s life. The jungle boy life of Kevin is not too far from Hunter’s childhood as the son of a missionary. Part of the mystery, part of the intrigue comes from knowing that it comes from Thomas Hunter, who, it is alleged, got the story idea from the Historian Ted Dekker himself. (One can note the similarities with Dekker’s Thunder of Heaven.) Moreover, as the story progresses, the writing improves and you can witness Hunter improving his craft and getting to understand his story and his characters.
To Kill With Reason has its flaws. But it also has some great moments that give us hope that the fledgling writer might persevere and emerge from this good first attempt. Of course we now know that Thomas Hunter was destined for things greater than storytelling, and instead became a part of the magnificent story of redemption known as The Circle Series. Perhaps had fate not intended this for him, his craft might now rival that of Dekker himself.
I carefully gathered the pages and wrapped them back in the paper, doing so delicately so as not to crinkle the paper further. Something so special deserved such caution. This would be placed in a special hiding place next to another unique book, a blank book – something called a Book of History – which I had also happened upon. These would I treasure always.
As I began to tie the twine back around the package, I noticed some small writing on the inside of the paper. In my haste to get at the contents, I had completely ignored the packaging. The writing was faded and barely discernable, yet the message came through clear.
This story is not just for you, This is a story meant for all. Tell them that they too can read this novel. That they too can experience the story Thomas of Hunter wanted to tell the world. Tell them. Tell them everything…
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