Obsessed, by Ted Dekker, is a clever and suspense-laced thriller with alternating story lines that takes the reader from 1973 to a Nazi work camp in Germany. As the title indicates, obsession is the main theme, and the compelling characters are all driven by some form of obsession. But what struck me about this story was another, more subtle theme: sacrificial love.
Stephen Friedman, the main character, is a young, Jewish real estate agent obsessed with the American Dream in the 1970's. His foster father, Chaim Levelor, whom he calls "Rabbi," is not only obsessed with finding Stephen a wife, but also by his faith. In contrast to Friedman's secular antipathy, Chaim is a Messianic Jew [a Jew who believes Jesus is the Messiah and God] whose gentle teaching throughout the years has influenced Stephen more than he cares to admit. When Stephen learns that his mother-from whom he had been separated at childbirth during the Holocaust-has died, his obsession turns to discovering what he can about the mother he never knew. His quest leads him to another obsession: finding a priceless treasure owned by his mother, the mystical "Stones of David." The Stones have been lost since World War II and are also the obsession of two other men, Gerhard and Roth Braun.
When the story switches to 1944, Gerhard Braun is introduced as the sadistic German commandant of the camp where two women, Martha and Ruth, are imprisoned. His young son, Roth, lives with him and is a witness to the malicious games his father plays with the women. Both women give birth at the camp and struggle to ensure the survival of their children: Stephen, Martha's son; and Esther, Ruth's daughter. Pressed into domestic service to Braun, Martha discovers a cache of treasure looted by the Nazis. Among the artifacts are five gold-encased stones reported to be the stones selected by David to kill Goliath, a treasure once owned by her family.
Decades after the liberation of the camp, Gerhard becomes obsessed with finding the stones he is certain was taken by Martha. Roth's obsession to recover the power he feels was stolen from his father by the sacrifice of the women, drives him to murder and pits him against Stephen as all three men search for the Stones.
The Christian theme of sacrificial love is the golden thread woven through the story lines and, in the end, is what breaks the power of obsession. The author uses scripture judiciously and manages to compare the evil Braun's quest for power to Lucifer's struggle against God. I found myself quickly swept up in the story and could not put the book down. Much to my delight, the author waited until the last page to reveal the ultimate obsession.