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Roadside Crosses - Jeffrey Deaver

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Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Jeffrey Deaver / Paperback / 548 Pages / Book is published 2010-02 by Simon & Schuster Export

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      11.10.2011 06:46
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      A pretty poor Jeffery Deaver thriller

      Roadside Crosses

      Roadside Crosses is a crime thriller written by Jeffery Deaver and featuring Kathryn Dance, his second most popular character after the quadriplegic detective, Lincoln Rhyme. This novel sees Dance on the trail of a murderer picking victims off an internet forum, and leaving roadside memorials the day before the planned murder. At the same time she has the added worry of her own mother being accused of a mercy killing murder.

      This is the third Deaver novel that I've read, and of the three it's the weakest. The other two featured Lincoln Rhyme, who is a much better character than Kathryn Dance, who actually popped up in the second of those books (The Cold Moon) before getting her own series of novels. Dance is a kinesics expert - an expert in body language and interviewing techniques, but in Roadside Crosses she doesn't actually spend much time interviewing people, and with the exception of the occasional "and Dance could tell he was lying from the way he touched his leg" etc. there's not a great deal of insight into the world of interrogation.

      The best thing about Deaver (apart from that he looks like his dog - see the author photos on hardback editions!) is his skill with the plot twist. He's very old school with this in a way that only an established author can be - few publishers are interested in plot twists these days from new writers but once you've got a fanbase you can pretty much do what you like - and there are the usual plethora on show here. It's simply impossible to believe anything because if you've read a Deaver before you know that he'll push a plot line to the point of irrefutability before doubling it back on itself. In Roadside Crosses everyone is convinced that a boy called Travis is the murderer because of the damning evidence against him, until that twist comes. Then, with Deaver you know it won't be the second guy, or the third guy ... you get the way it goes. Inserting all these plot twists forces Deaver to use copious amounts of "catch-up" backstory passages, where he'll sum up what Dance spent the last three hours doing, after making a huge discovery off-screen, in about a hundred words, having taken fifty pages to tell the events of the preceeding morning, another thing that a new writer can't get away with (can anyone sense my bitterness?!)

      Another thing that Deaver overdoes as part of the canon of hugely popular potboiler thriller writers that includes guys like Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, and a hundred others, is try to be clever. There's no doubt that his books are meticulously researched, and it's not uncommon to come across little titbits of information that make you think, "Oh, I never knew that". He starts on the very first page with a little point about the angle at which patrol troopers park their cars and goes on from there. However, while in most of his books these points are about legal or police stuff, here a lot of the book is about websites and forums so you get Deaver explaining text-talk (what he calls "leetspeak") and other such stuff in terribly condescending detail. At times, when he's explaining about what the rest of the world calls trolling and cyber-bullying, etc., it's very cringeworthy and comes across like your Grandad explaining Facebook.

      Overall, if you like Deaver you'll probably enjoy this, but otherwise I wouldn't recommend it. I read it fairly quickly but only because I wanted to see how he pulled off the plot twists, but it wasn't particularly impressive. Get one of his Lincoln Rhyme books instead and forget about Kathryn Dance. The Twelfth Card and The Cold Moon are twice as good as this.

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