Review

Roadside Crosses: A Kathryn Dance Novel

by Jeffery Deaver

ROADSIDE CROSSES, Jeffery Deaver’s latest novel, offers a
bit of a departure from the work of one of thriller fiction’s
most unpredictable and reliable practitioners. It marks both the
return of Kathryn Dance, last seen in THE SLEEPING DOLL, and a
continuation of that book, tying up one major loose end left over
from its predecessor and creating a number of new ones.

The novel takes place over the course of an extremely busy and
deadly five-day workweek that sees Dance challenged personally and
professionally on a number of different levels. After a young woman
is kidnapped and left to drown in the trunk of a car, a roadside
cross commemorating the event is found nearby. The incident is tied
to a prior automobile accident in which two high school students
were killed. Travis Brigham, a social outcast among his peers,
admitted to driving the car involved in the fatal crash. A posting
about the accident on The Chilton Report, an immensely popular
Internet blog, has resulted in a flurry of online attacks against
Brigham, which have grown increasingly incendiary. When the
kidnapping occurs, it appears that Brigham is retaliating against
the online attacks; as more take place, the Monterey area is thrown
into a panic.

In her capacity as a senior agent with the California Bureau of
Investigation, Dance is brought into the mix when an area-wide
manhunt for Brigham commences, and her skills as a body-language
expert are brought to bear during witness interviews. Dance comes
to learn that Brigham is immersed in the world of online reality
gaming, and appears to be blurring the distinction between the
violence of the online world he inhabits and the real world. It is
imperative that Dance locates Brigham, who can seemingly appear and
vanish at will, but she has a couple of major distractions.
The largest concerns the death of Juan Millar, which occurred at
the conclusion of THE SLEEPING DOLL. In the midst of Dance’s
own investigation, her mother, a nurse at the hospital where Millar
died, is inexplicably charged with his murder.

Meanwhile, Dance finds herself in the crosshairs of a
bureaucratic investigation, with her boss pinning the bullseye
right on her forehead. To make matters worse, Monterey County
Sheriff Michael O’Neil, who frequently works with Dance, is
suddenly unavailable to help her on the Brigham case. As matters
rapidly reach a frightening conclusion, Dance finds that she is
placing herself and her colleagues in danger from sources both
known and unexpected, even as she slowly begins to face the
possibility that her own mother may be a killer.

ROADSIDE CROSSES contains a number of examples of Deaver’s
classic methods of misdirection. Interestingly enough, however, he
relies less on those tried and true plot elements and more upon
straightforward, but no less fascinating, police work. For those
unfamiliar with blogging and online gaming, this book will be a
real eye-opener into both worlds. And if you are reading solely for
his clever diversions, never fear; Deaver still peppers his plot
with plenty of surprises, particularly at the conclusion, when they
come quickly and furiously. And loose ends? There is at least one
waiting at the end, which will be resolved in the next Kathryn
Dance novel, scheduled for release in 2011. For now, ROADSIDE
CROSSES will keep Deaver’s fans spellbound.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Roadside Crosses: A Kathryn Dance Novel
by Jeffery Deaver

  • Publication Date: June 9, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1416549994
  • ISBN-13: 9781416549994