Summary: An English lit grad school dropout is working as a researcher investigating the death of his former advisor.
Death Comes for the Deconstructionist was recommended by someone that I do not remember, but a fair chance it was John Wilson. Wilson review is in the Amazon description:
”One part academic satire, one part mystery, and one part theological investigation, this pleasingly disorienting novel packs a wicked punch. Like life itself, Daniel Taylor gives us a story in which all sorts of incongruous elements are jumbled together. (Reality is not fastidious.) But is there–could there be–a pattern nonetheless, a great design amid all the confusion?”
And really that is a great short description. It is academic satire making fun of literary theory, while actually understanding it. There is a real mystery at the root of the story. While the protagonist grew up a Christian and has theological reflections throughout the book, this is not a Father Brown mystery. It feels a little like Mark Berstrand’s Roland March Mystery series. Roland March was a real detective and there was not any academic satire, but both have an approach to Christian fiction that eshews most of the standard Christian fiction tropes.
But I suspect like Berstrand, this probably has not found a wide audience. It is well written, I understand why it has had so many good reviews, including winning Fiction book of the year in Christianity Today’s 2016 Book Awards. But it is niche. Christian fiction does not have a lot of room for either academic satire or mystery fiction.
I have not seen the movie God is Not Dead. But I roughly know the plot. The problem with movies or books like God is not Dead is that there is no legitimate conflict or grappling with understanding. Death Comes for the Deconstructionist understands the literary theory he is satirizing, and while he doesn’t agree with it, he appreciates what it is doing. I am not sure that this will gain anyone’s attention since I have not actually watched God is Not Dead, but as I read this, I kept thinking, this is probably what God is Not Dead is trying to get across, but couldn’t because it didn’t understand the art of writing a story.
Death Comes for a Deconstructionist is not a perfect book, but it was a good one. And there is a second book to the series now, so I will pick that up sometime next year.