Thursday, June 11, 2020

Roadside Crosses

Roadside Crosses
by Jeffery Deaver
Recommended Ages: 14+

The California Bureau of Investigation has an agent whose expertise in kinesics (the study of body language) helps her close loads of cases. You'd think they'd appreciate that. But while Kathryn Dance pursues a teen who has apparently snapped after being cyber-bullied, and who can seemingly move back and forth between the simulated world of online gaming and the real world, she also has to deal with a horrible boss, an investigator from Sacramento who is trying to wrest control of the investigation from her, a prosecutor who plans to make his bones by putting Dance's mom away for murder, a defendant from a previous case whose legal team is trying to gum up the works, and a romantic dilemma between a sheriff's deputy who has been something of a soulmate for years (but, alas, he's married to somebody else) and a new guy who suddenly starts to look like Mr. Right.

That's a lot to put on one person's plate, but Dance is good at multi-tasking. So, however, is the killer who has been targeting people who commented on a news blog, starting with a discussion about a certain weird boy who lives half his life in cyberspace. The kid may be a couch potato with no friends or real-world skills, but he proves amazingly elusive as attack after attack – the first few aren't fatal – seemingly exploit the victims' worst fears. Also, the killer somehow finds time to plant roadside memorials, with cut flowers and wooden crosses, every time an attack is due to take place.

Unless this is your first Jeffery Deaver novel, you probably already know by now that there will be multiple surprise twists. And by that I mean that you'll think you know whodunit, and that the mystery is over, more than once before it's actually so. Some of that goes down to Deaver's patented "there's more than one thing going on" trick, some to the classic "there's more going on than you think" trick (not the same thing) and of course, there's a final twist of the "every clue up to this point, except maybe one, has been a trick" trick. Full of tricks he is, that Jeffery Deaver. Somehow, however, this book leaves me more in the mood than some to give him credit for concealing the unexpected within a tightly woven skein of clues. It also digs into the emotional lives of its characters, especially Kathryn and her inner circle, to deliver more than an impersonal puzzle – a novel tinged with romance, family drama, workplace conflict and the ongoing formation of a brilliant sleuthing career.

This is the second of four Kathryn Dance novels by the author of some 14 Lincoln Rhyme crime thrillers and many other books. The series begins with The Sleeping Doll and also includes XO and Solitude Creek.

No comments: