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Saturday, May 23, 2015


3.5 stars out of 5

This is Deaver's fourth novel featuring Kathryn Dance, a California Bureau of Investigation agent and kinesics expert, but only the second I've read (with the exception of her initial appearance as a consultant in Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme/Amelia Sachs novel Cold Moon). I wish Dance were a more appealing character, but so far, I just haven't been able to warm up to her all that much.

I haven't figured out why. Although I didn't follow that career path, I do have a bachelor's degree in psychology, so specialties like kinesics, neuro-linguistic programming and such are not only familiar to me, but subjects of substantial interest. But maybe the devil is in the details; explanations of how she interprets behavior somehow sound simplistic at best, to-wit:

"Dance knew in her heart...that there was no way there would be any prints from the man who'd intentionally blocked the club doors. She knew instinctively he would be meticulous." Well duh - I knew that instinctively myself, and I'm not a trained behavioralist. Besides that, even though the situation she describes did involve a super-large truck, why would Dance, of all people, assume the perpetrator is a man? 

Also at issue, I think, is that too many investigations are going on at once. The first happens at a small concert arena named (are you ready for this??) Solitude Creek, where concert-goers become aware of a fire and the ensuing panic (and the blocking of exit doors) results in death. Subplots involve racial graffiti and identifying the culprits and finding who's behind a drug-running pipeline. Oh, and sandwiched in between are issues involving a couple of Dance's romantic interests. I would have been happy with just one (or maybe two) of these storylines; this many smacks of overkill, so to speak, and a mad rush to bring all of them to conclusion that to me, at least, seemed contrived. That said, I'll give Deaver points for not turning any of them into one of those cliffhangers that other popular authors seem to think are necessary to guarantee sales of their the next books.

In the end, though, Deaver remains a favorite author, and yes, I'll read his next Kathryn Dance novel (and anything else he writes, for that matter). Who knows? Maybe one of these days, the character will grow on me.

Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver (Grand Central Publishing, May 2015); 464 pp.

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