Crime Fiction


The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver

A 5-Star, standalone novel by Jeffery Deaver.
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A while ago, a friend lent me a book by the American author, Jeffrey Deaver, called Edge, which was reviewed here a while ago. I surprised myself by really liking it. I have always had a slight aversion to crime books featuring the same detective or lead character over a long series (with a few exceptions). But as a recent challenge in the book group was to be inspired to try something new to us, I decided I’d try reading books by authors whom I have, in the past, avoided. So, I found another Deaver book, this one – The Bodies Left Behind from 2008.

Deaver is an award-winning author of (so far) 19 crime novels. One of his creations is the criminologist Lincoln Rhyme about whom he has written 14 novels. He has several other leading characters, who each feature in a few books.

But this one – like Edge – is a standalone. It takes place in the wilds of a rugged inaccessible national forest in Wisconsin. A deputy sheriff, Brynn McKenzie, sets out to discover what, if anything, is behind an aborted emergency call from a deserted lake house. When she gets there, she walks into a gruesome murder. Before she gets a chance to call for back up, and deprived of her phone and her weapon by the killers, she suddenly finds herself the next potential victim. She has no option other than to flee into the wilderness along with the only survivor of the massacre – a young city woman.

From then on, the story is about how these two unlikely allies – a country police woman and a city-slicker girl – battle the woods, the dense sometimes poisonous vegetation, the steep treacherous gullies and rivers, pursued by the two hired killers, who themselves have to become allies to also survive 12 hours in this nightmare forest.

This is a cat and mouse chase, taking place almost in real time. Interspersed with the tale of the chase through the forest, we get flashbacks to what went before – the man behind the hit and the deputy’s troubled past (and present).

I found the book gripping. The story is exciting, I liked the resourceful heroine, and even the two hitmen became interesting as we gradually found out more about them. And the description of the wilderness is chilling. Not a nice walk in the woods, this. But an almost impenetrable wilderness of old trees, tangled bushes, poison ivy, vicious thorn trees, wolves, snakes, raging torrents, swamps and more interspersed with well signed trails which the two women must avoid as they will be far too easy to spot on them. A nightmare forest indeed. The forest itself almost becomes another character in the book and a chilling one at that. When the crime is revealed it is quite surprising. And the ending has a distinct twist in the tail, worth waiting for.

To my mind a 5-star book. I can recommend that you try it and see if you agree.

If you enjoy reading crime fiction why not come along to one of our meetings? They’re on the third Friday of every month, 2.30pm @ Oundle Library. It’s very informal because we don’t have a set reading list. We do, however, enjoy a wide-ranging chat about the books we’ve read and enjoyed. Everyone welcome!