Tuesday 27 September 2016

Master of the thriller Deaver does it again

Myles Mcweeney

Published 03/05/2015 | 02:30

Roller coaster: Jeffery Deaver delivers another plot twist at the end
Roller coaster: Jeffery Deaver delivers another plot twist at the end

Kathryn Dance is an agent with the California Bureau of Investigation. An expert interrogator and skilled in the science of interpreting body language, Dance finds herself suspended from duty when an interview with a witness goes terribly wrong.

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Reduced to checking insurance details after a stampede at a local roadhouse called Solitude Creek results in several deaths and a number of injuries, Dance's instincts tell her that something is not quite right. She suspects the panic at the roadhouse was deliberately caused and soon she is unofficially involved in a deadly game of cat and mouse with an eerie, warped individual called Antioch March, a persuasive psychopath who has resolved to cause panic and death wherever people gather.

A widow with two children and juggling two potential beaus, Dance's personal life adds major complications, and the consequences of the botched interrogation come crashing back into her life threatening to skewer her career further.

Solitude Creek is Deaver's 35th thriller and fourth in the Kathryn Dance series. A phenomenon in crime fiction - he has sold 20 million books, is published in 150 countries and translated into 25 languages - he always wanted to be a writer. He says he wrote his first "book" at the age of 11, and went on to be a reporter for the school newspaper. He studied journalism and became a magazine writer, but went back to college and eventually became a corporate lawyer on Wall Street.

Commuting to Wall Street gave Deaver time to plot his first novels. Voodoo, a supernatural thriller, and Always A Thief, an art heist caper, are long out of print and are now collector's items. His first hit was a 1988 thriller called Manhattan Is My Beat, featuring a streetwise young woman called Rune, and four years later, in 1992, The Skin Collector was published. It was the first of the series with which he is now most associated, featuring wheelchair-bound paraplegic detective Lincoln Rhyme and his female New York cop associate Amelia Sachs, and it catapulted Deaver to the top of the bestsellers list all over the world.

Few thriller writers can match Deaver for his mastery of suspense and character and he certainly stands head and shoulders above the rest for his signature roller-coaster plot twists. It is something he works at very hard to achieve. He spends up to eight months painstakingly preparing a detailed outline for each of his books in which each serpentine twist and turn is meticulously charted before he sits down to write.

In an interview some years ago he explained that when he does start to write, "I just shut my eyes, put my hands on the keyboard and go for it". But this burst of frenetic creativity is immediately followed by an almost forensic revision of the manuscript, which will be revised 20 or 30 times before it is dispatched to his publisher.

He rarely consults with experts when researching his books, feeling that talking to experts often garners too much information. Instead, he reads books and articles on the topics he needs to bone up on, and uses the internet extensively. When researching Garden Of Beasts, his 2004 stand alone thriller set in Berlin during the 1936 Nazi Olympic Games, he accumulated an astonishing 10,000 or so pages of notes, yet he only used about 5pc of all of the research because, he says, if it doesn't further the story, out it goes.

However many pages of notes he may have discarded in the writing of Solitude Creek, the remaining ones have been used to great effect in this multi-layered and intriguingly convoluted thriller that delivers a masterly signature Deaver plot twist in the final pages.

Thriller: Solitude Creek

Jeffrey Deaver,

Hodder & Stoughton, pbk, 464 pages

Available with free P&P on www.kennys.ie

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