|The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver|
|Reviewer: Jason Mark Curley|
|Summary: A tense crime/thriller from a modern master of the genre.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 512||Date: October 2009|
|Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks|
When lawyer Emma Feldman and her husband Steven decided to buy a holiday home to give them the opportunity for much needed breaks from their hectic professional lives, they brought an old colonial house in the woods by Lake Mondac in Wisconsin, on foreclosure – it seemed like the deal of a lifetime. But on their first evening in the place, a series of strange snapping noises outside begin to freak the couple out. They know they are in real trouble when a man with shotgun and stocking mask appears at their window. Another enters the building and the only hope they have is that someone will take notice of Steven's phone call to the police, cut off by the intruders after he is able to get out only one word – This.
The local police department quickly work out who the call was from and its probable location. Because she lives closest to Lake Mondac, off-duty deputy, Kristen Brynn McKenzie leaves her husband and son shortly before dinner to go and investigate. On her way there she's filled in on the little information the police have been able to put together so far: Emma seems to have discovered a scam in the middle of a deal she'd been working on.
When Brynn makes it to the house she finds herself in the middle of a murder scene, but stupidly enters the house without calling into the station. This could be the biggest mistake of her life as she becomes the next potential victim of the killers.
Deaver is a writer it's almost impossible to pigeonhole within the genre of crime fiction. I think this is because he takes the tension and suspense elements beyond the limits of most other writers currently working within this genre, and The Bodies Left Behind is no exception to this. Something about his writing style often makes me feel like I'm reading classic Stephen King, or more correctly, the top notch writing of the illegitimate love-child of Stephen King and Patricia Cornwell, and if you ask me, that's no bad thing.
As you'd expect, all the characters, even the seemingly minor ones, have implicit back stories, which may not all surface but which you nevertheless feel the weight of as you progress through the novel. My only qualm with the characterisation is that Brynn seems so normal and unaffected. She's almost the perfect anti-cliché of the usual detective figure. I guess it's a sign for the rest of the novel as Deaver tries to avoid most of the usual tropes, to make this an exciting and refreshing read.
Dialogue is as naturalistic as it gets, yet also possesses an often thinly-veiled wit and staccato flow, adding to the pacey feel. I think both these reasons are why it's so hard to avoid the King comparisons. More than anything this novel feels like a big world presented on a small plate, and isn't that what we want from all our reading?
It's strange reviewing this book, as it's unlikely it will pass most Deaver fans by. But, because it's a standalone novel, this is the perfect opportunity for the as yet unconverted to give him a try out. If you want a highly paced, tense, intellectually stimulating novel, which will keep you on the edge of your seat till the final page, you could do a lot worse than to give this a go.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending me this copy.
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