They Shall See God by Athol Dickson

When I first started reading They Shall See God, I got a little bogged down in all the different characters. I had trouble remembering why we were talking about a particular one, but as the story progressed the characters took a definite shape along the story line and their purpose to the story became clear. Once I had that settled, I allowed myself to become immersed in the story.

Two women who had been best friends as little girls and had witnessed a terrible crime become linked again after 30 years of not seeing each other. The killer they testified against in their childhood is released from prison and returns to his hometown. Not long after his arrival, people who were witnesses to that old crime are being murdered in very strange scenarios. While the scenarios may have been weird, the suspense in the story was believable, which gave it a good balance.

I became so involved in the main characters that I found myself speaking out loud to Ruth about her terrible mistrust of people and her biting bitterness. And I was frustrated by Kate’s fear and paralysis. However, as their stories unfolded, I came to understand why they behaved so, and it fit perfectly with the resolution that came by the end of the book. This is not a criticism of the author’s portrayal of the characters–it’s to say that I was so taken in by the story and the characters that, for me, it was as if they were real people.

The last couple of chapters tied the story up very neatly. That the main characters–who by now had become friends of mine–found peace and forgiveness for others and themselves was purely satisfying, and especially so because Ruth learned from the man she hated so badly what true sacrificial love really looked like. It was what it took to remove all traces of mistrust from her mind.

The true villain of the story ended up being a victim of his own making and received the justice his sick mind had caused him to believe his victims deserved.

More than all that though, this is a story of crossing man-made lines. It’s a story about understanding why others believe as they do and loving and accepting each other across religious boundaries. It’s a story that puts aside condemnation and misunderstanding. I encourage those who read They Shall See God to stay with the story all the way through the Epilogue; the final answer is there.

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