Monday, April 6, 2009

Jeffery Deaver: The Bodies Left Behind

I know I’ve read Jeffery Deaver before, but I’m not a regular. I’m not sure why. I was attracted to The Bodies Left Behind by its Book-of-the-Month Club review.

A call comes in to 911, a man’s voice says, “This”, and the call ends. The phone goes to voice mail when the operator tries to call back. Sheriff Tom Dahl of Kennesha County, Wisconsin learns that the call came from Lake Mondac in Marquette State Park in the remote northern part of his county. The phone is owned by a pair of lawyers from Milwaukee who own a vacation home at the lake. They were to meet a friend of theirs from Chicago at the lake. Dahl doesn’t like unresolved issues, so he sends Deputy Brynn McKenzie to investigate.

Just before Brynn arrives at the lake house, Dahl calls to let her know it was a false alarm, so she should come back. (A man returned the Sheriff’s calls and explained it was an error with his speed dial.) But Brynn is closer to the lake house than to the nearest gas station, so she decides to go on and borrow the bathroom. While there she finds two bodies on the floor, is attacked by a pair of thugs named Hart and Lewis, and finds a scared woman named Michelle hiding from the thugs.

To keep the book interesting, Brynn loses her phone, gun, and car in the lake before letting anyone know what is happening. (She’ll have quite a story to tell about that experience.) She and Michelle escape into the woods of the State Park with Hart and Lewis in pursuit. Meanwhile, everyone back at the office thinks she’s on her way home with plans to stop for dinner, and take the next day off. Oops!

Eventually, Dahl figures out that something is wrong and rallies the troops. He also finds the bodies, but by then he is hours and miles behind. Brynn and Michelle have been surviving on pluck and wits, while Hart and Lewis press on with a determination to leave no loose ends behind.

Deaver gives us plenty of plot complications and major twists that I did not see coming. But they all fit logically. The characters are pretty well developed, and I like Brynn.

The Bodies Left Behind is a good adventure romp with all the excitement and surprises I could ask for. I clearly need to read more Deaver.

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