Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Book Review - Roadside Crosses - Jeffrey Deaver

When Jeffery Deaver developed Kathryn Dance he created a character that directly contrasted the uber-logical, evidence hungry mantra of Deaver's greatest detective, Lincoln Rhyme. Dance is softer, more intuitive, feminine and human. She is family oriented, less driven, emotionally complex and the settings have more of a laid back, sunshine feel to the breathless pursuits of Rhyme and Sachs.

Having said all this, 'The Sleeping Doll' was possibly my favourite of all the Deaver books I've read. Kathryn's abilities as a kinesics expert were particularly interesting and intriguing, and her hunt for sect leader and super psycho, Daniel Pell was a sublime piece of storytelling. So it was with great excitement and anticipation that I commenced the second full Dance novel, Roadside Crosses.

The story explores aspects of the on-line or synth world, such as multi-player game addiction, cyber bullying and the dark side of blogging! When a teenager is abused on a popular blog for killing two girls in a car crash, he goes on the rampage to avenge his on-line attackers as he starts slaughtering them using similar tactics to the ones he uses in his favourite fantasy role playing game. Dance must use all her body language reading skills to track down the youth, both in the real and synth worlds.

It all sounds complex, relevant and thrilling, and to a certain extent it is, but for a 'Deaver' it is surprisingly disappointing. For starters, it's incredibly slow paced. We live in Kathryn's work and family life in what feels like real time. The human relationships and back story which were so enjoyable in the first novel seem overplayed and drag on endlessly in the first half of the book. The story itself takes a while to gather momentum, but once started the synth world setting is an excellent foyle for Dance's softer skills. Sadly, there's an element of predictability in the end of chapter cliff hangers and the ultimate resolution of the story was on the preposterous side of Ken Mckenzie.

Don't get me wrong, I love Jeffery Deaver and this would be a great crime novel by most authors, but for Deaver it just doesn't quite cut the mustard. Kathryn's world is still a lovely place to be, and she is still an original and highly alluring character, but hopefully the pace and predictability will be addressed in the next novel, XO. After so many perfect thrillers perhaps Deaver was due one slightly substandard outing, but don't let that put you off. it's definitely worth a read if you have any interest in crime-fighting fiction.

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