Jeffery Deaver is a writer of intelligent and entertaining mysteries. Whenever you pop open the pages of a Deaver book you know you are going to be challenged by an author who wants to engage his readers in a contest of wits. He will offer you a logical set of circumstances and he dares you to figure out the outcome. This has been the case with all of his books in the past and this definitely is the case in his new thriller XO.
XO tells the story of Kayleigh Towne, a country music star who has fans from one end of the country to the other. She is a young woman at the top of her career and now she is in her hometown of Fresno, California to give what she hopes will be one of the best performances of her career. While she is preparing, Kathryn Dance, who is a friend of hers, takes a few days of vacation in the Fresno area. She is nearby when an attempt is made on Kayleigh's life.
Since Kathryn is an officer with the California Bureau of Investigations she immediately offers her assistance to the local authorities. They have decided the most logical lead is a fan of Kayleigh's who is obsessed with her. He has been sending e-mails and making phone calls which reveal his deranged and obsessive nature.
Deaver takes the idea of a fan stalking a "star" and runs with it. He has had Kathryn Dance take the lead in several of his novels and she has become a readers' favorite. Letting her use her skills in kinesics, which is the art of studying body language, in this story makes for interesting reading and technical knowledge.
He also brings the personal story of Dance along with a few more tidbits about her personal life. We already know she is a widow who has two children and lives in Pacific Grove, California. She is known for her expertise in kinesics which has been used to her advantage in solving several crimes. In this case involving Kayleigh she pulls out all the tricks in her bag to try to determine who is behind this attack and several that follow.
When you read a Deaver novel you know he is going to abide by the facts he presents and also that there are going to be more twists and turns than you can imagine. He is going to try to outwit the reader and the reader is going to try to guess the solution before being told. That is where the majority of the entertainment from his stories can be found.
There are only a few writers whose new books are so eagerly anticipated. In the mystery/thriller realm for me it is Deaver, Karin Slaughter and Michael Connelly. I leap into a Deaver novel headfirst and gobble up the words voraciously. When I am finished I am completely satisfied. Such is the case with XO.
In XO, Deaver challenges the reader, entertains the reader, and satisfies the reader. If every successful book is a notch on his computer, he has just added one more mark.
XO is published by Simon and Schuster. It contains 385 pages and sells for $26.99.
Jackie K Cooper
Jeffery Deaver Interview