Review

The Bodies Left Behind

by Jeffery Deaver

The arrival of a Jeffery Deaver novel normally means that one
sets aside a (long) night or two and becomes immersed in a
storyline consisting wholly of the unexpected. His latest work
requires this; add the bonus of a new and intriguing character, and
you have what may be his best book in years.

Fans of Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme and Kathryn Dance novels will
note immediately that his setting for THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND is
neither Rhyme’s New York nor Dance’s Northern
California. Rather, the action takes place in the Wisconsin
wilderness where Brynn McKenzie, a local police deputy, is brought
in to investigate a 911 call that was cut short and originated from
an isolated summer home on Lake Mondac. The house check is expected
to be a quick one, although it is anything but, as McKenzie
discovers a gruesome double murder. Upon her arrival she is almost
immediately fired at; wounded, without a usable vehicle, cell
phone, weapons or backup, she must fend for herself as she is
pursued across a dark, isolated tableau with unknown territory
ahead.

Complicating matters is the fact that McKenzie is attempting to
protect a young woman who was also at the summer house and who
appears ill-suited for defending herself from the dangers that
emanate from the pursuers behind them and the wilderness in front
of them. Totally cut off from communication, she is unaware that
her department believes the emergency call to have been a mistake.
Her only hope is her husband, Graham, who slowly becomes suspicious
about her extended absence and bravely takes matters into his own
hands, even as she attempts to reach safety, aided only by the most
primitive tools and weapons. What she soon discovers, however, is
that the wilderness that envelops her holds a number of unexpected
dangers --- and that there are even more waiting for her should she
reach civilization.

Readers attempting to figure out where the plot and characters
are going are best served by avoiding assumptions and stereotypes.
Even if one can guess any of its mysteries, such ability will
hardly spoil Deaver’s dark guidance through the Wisconsin
wilderness, where dangers of the two- and four- (and no-) legged
variety abound.

McKenzie is an addicting and credible addition to Deaver’s
growing cast of protagonists. While tough and capable, she is
believably (without being overly) vulnerable, sustaining damage in
THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND that she doesn’t easily walk away
from. McKenzie also has domestic problems, some of which are
related to her job and others to her past, which provide both tough
and tender situations to play out even as danger manifests itself
around her. Throw in enough fascinating secondary characters to
support several novels, along with Deaver’s spot-on timing
and pacing, and you have a book that is impossible to stop reading
until you are finished and unforgettable once you have reached the
end.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 22, 2010

The Bodies Left Behind
by Jeffery Deaver

  • Publication Date: November 11, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1416595619
  • ISBN-13: 9781416595618