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THIS CAN'T BE A JEFFERY DEAVER
on 11 May 2013
Jeffery Deaver is, by a country mile, my favourite detective author. I have read everything he has ever written, including all of his excellent short stories, and have never, ever, been disappointed. Now I'm fairly smart (well, I think I am so that's OK!) and I have never, not once, worked out the 'baddie' or, in the odd case, the ending before the final section of a JD book. It's deliciously frustrating to know that he can beat me time after time, no matter how much I study his style. I would read a set of map directions if JD wrote it and, yes, I have pre-ordered his next gift to mystery readers.
But 'A Textbook Case' is different. It is short. Very short. But, then again, Mr Deaver is no stranger to the undervalued skill of compressing a wonderful plot and brilliant characters into fewer words. This book is all over the show. It's muddled and confused and then, at the end, it's as though JD has got to the end of his allotted word count and has thought "Oh, better end it now". And then there is the event that has changed my life. For the first time, I guessed the villain early on (OK, it was a guess and not a true identification, but it's still the first time for me). JD always puts the clues there for you but so skilfully that you just don't see them until it's too late; I've even immediately re-read some of his books just to make sure that he didn't cheat me and, sure enough, he always wins fair and square. But not this time. The critical clue was wafted through the plot but in such a clumsy fashion that I spotted it straight away. Even the usual 'red herring' was glowing crimson and stinking to high heaven.
If you've never read a JD, then this will just be an average, if very short, read. But, honestly Mr D, for us fans, I wish you'd never bothered.
So, to protect my 'hero image' here's a theory. I'm going to assume that this is a clever ploy and JD has not, really, written this pedestrian drivel at all. One day, while in conversation with his publisher, the publisher evinced the view that JD had written so many books that anyone could write a Lincoln Rhyme story, using previous novels as a text book, and no one would notice that it wasn't, actually, JD. "Go ahead" says JD, "And see what happens. We'll even call it 'A Textbook Case' as a clue to the readers". This is the result!
Just to ensure that you recognise the difference between diamond and cubic zirconium, a taster of 'The Kill Room' is added at the end; now THAT's a proper JD!
Lets hope that 'The Kill Room' is back to good old JD all of the way through.