A good way to start is with one of your favourite authors. I read The Bone Collector* when I was at university and since then I have read all of Deaver’s novels – both the character series (Lincoln Rhyme, Location Scout and Rune) and the standalones. The Bodies Left Behind is his latest work and it’s a standalone focusing on a deputy’s escape from two killers through a deserted forest. Good ol’ Jeff gives a rundown on his website.
When Jeff was last in Oz a couple of friends and I went to see him at a local library. The crowd ranged from us diehards to a few old nannas who hadn’t read his books but probably go to those sort of things for entertainment. He was fantastic and believe me I know how un-fantastic authors can sometimes be. He was very aware of his craft, able to speak of it in an interesting and authoritative manner, and he was funny and smart and gracious. When I gushed at him about my distress at having to choose which book for him to sign, he told me that next time I had to bring ALL of them – now he and I know that’s over 20 books, and granted we’ll probably never meet again, and the ‘next time’ comment may have been somewhat confident, but at the time I appreciated it.
I’m not an autograph hound. It doesn’t bother me whether books are signed by authors or whether all my books by a certain author are in the same series style. Anyone who has seen my library (or just glanced at my cafe table at lunch time) knows I treat the physical object quite harshly. I dog ear pages, bend back spines, stuff books in overcrowded, crumb-riddled bags and accidentally drop them in the bath, but there are a few signed books I see as special. One is Jefferey Deaver’s Sleeping Doll (another is my absolutely battered copy of Kitchen Confidential in which Anthony Bourdain signed it and drew a dripping, bloodied knife).
I like Deaver’s novels for the suspense and thrills. Yes, they can be a little bloody at times but they’re not too bad. Or maybe I’m desensitised, who knows. I don’t think he is needlessly gory. I like his characters’ funny thoughts and little asides, and there are some marvellous supporting characters in his regular series which fill me with joy when they make an appearance. The thing that I love is that he always gets me. Whenever I think I have worked out the twist, the missing link, I am completely,utterly, totally wrong. Every book has an Aha! moment for me (at least one) and I love that. He has a new Kathryn Dance (crime-solving kinesics expert… a bit like some new show I’ve seen advertised with Tim Roth in it – what is it with English actors getting their own US TV series, Hugh, Johnny Lee now Tim?) novel due out this year and I can’t wait.
* The version of The Bone Collector I read was the film tie-in version, with Denzel and Angelina on the cover. To prove that I am very open to suggestion and perhaps don’t always pay attention to small details once I have made up my mind, I spent many years thinking that the Lincoln Rhyme character was African-American — like Denzel. It was only a couple of years ago that my Deaver-devoted friends pointed out that although not many of Lincoln’s physical characteristics are described, apart from the whole quadriplegic issue, there is enough detail to confirm that Lincoln Rhyme is Anglo-Saxon-Celtic-Northern European-whitefella, whatever descriptor you want to use. Of course, as soon as they said it, I knew they were right but just like you often mispronounce words that you first came across in books as a child (one of mine is ‘revel’, for librarian-extraordinaire Nancy Pearl it was ‘awry’), your initial imaginings of characters are hard to shake. Will Aragorn always look like Vigo for many people? Yes. Hermione Granger like Emma Watson? You betcha. And for me, in the privacy of my mind, Lincoln Rhyme will often look like a slightly gruffer version of Denzel Washington. Tis just the way it is.