Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver is a riveting mystery. He is definitely the Master of Suspense with the many twists and turns throughout the novel. It is an understatement to say he manipulates his readers as he sets them up for one course of action and then abruptly changes it. This latest Kathryn Dance novel is no different.
Deaver commented to blackfive.net, “I like to camouflage clues but the surprises must be grounded with a reference somewhere. Twists are definitely my trademark. I think it is better to create suspense than depict gore. I want to grab readers with the story. I look for incidents that could scare the heck out of them. It is important to get that balance where the reader is horrified but not repulsed, which is why I cut away with the sex and violence scenes. To make my books resonate I raise different questions, but never preach.”
What makes this plot so gripping is that any person can see themselves in the victim’s situation. Whether in an elevator, a music club, a book signing, or an amusement park, the antagonist is able to manipulate a situation to cause chaos and panic, something he thrives upon. His first attempt at turning people’s fears and greed into a weapon was at a small concert venue on the Monterey Peninsula in California. Cries of fire caused people to panic and run for the doors, only to find them blocked. Investigators led by Kathryn Dance discover there was no fire and the six who died were stampeded. The rest of the book finds Kathryn and her team racing the clock to find the perpetrator before he strikes again.
Deaver had this idea for a storyline, “for many years. In the book I refer to the 25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, where in 1989 at a FA Cup semi-final 96 people were crushed to death. I came up with this quote from the book from a personal experience, “when the crowd takes over. You become a helpless cell in a creature whose sole goal is to survive, yet in attempting to do that it will sacrifice some of itself…” I remember feeling like that during an incident in Greenwich Village. There was this parade and the streets were completely packed. A scuffle ensued and the crowd started to move. I lost control and the crowd was moving me. I thought if someone or I fall we would be completely crushed.”
Kathryn Dance, a California Bureau Investigator, uses kinesics to question suspects and witnesses. As a body language expert she is able to tell if someone might be lying if they begin “to speak more slowly, since your mind is trying to craft the lie and make sure it’ll be consistent with everything you’ve said before. The second is a slight increase in pitch.” Readers will like Kathryn, finding her caring, intelligent, and perceptive. Deaver came up with the idea of having Dance as a body language expert, “after watching this special where a jury consultant used it to analyze jurors. I used it as a springboard for Kathryn’s profession. I wanted her to go one-on-one psychologically with the villains.”
Through her family interaction, including her two dogs, Dylan and Patsy, named after Bob Dylan and Patsy Cline, Deaver is able to show Kathryn’s personal side. This makes her more of a realistic character, and in this novel the love triangle that was happening between Kathryn and her two beaus will be settled. Because he was a folk singer and a failed musician, Deaver decided to have Kathryn mimic him, including loving the era of Dylan and Cline.
Solitude Creek, as with all Deaver books, keeps readers on their toes. He does not have just one main twist and turn, but numerous ones. This novel is literally a page-turner since on one page the author sets up an expectation and on the next page twists it around.
The author also gave a heads up about his latest projects, past and present. The Starling Project written in 2014 is set all over the world. What makes this unique is that it is an audio play where there are over eighty characters. The protagonist, Harold Middleton, and his team tracks down war criminals, warlords, and individuals responsible for atrocities. His next project will be a Lincoln Rhyme novel set in Italy involving that country’s illegal immigration problem with a terrorist twist.