Bestselling author Jeffery Deaver is known for his series of suspense novels starring Lincoln Rhyme, the quadriplegic investigator based in New York City (The Bone Collector
,The Vanished Man
to name a few). Despite his disability, Rhyme is able to sort through all manner of dastardly deeds with his partner and love interest, Amelia Sachs.
And in fact both Rhyme and Sachs make brief appearances in this novel.
But in The Sleeping Doll, Deaver has picked up a secondary character introduced in his 2006 Lincoln Rhyme novel The Cold Moon and made her the main character of this story.
Kathryn Dance, a special agent with the California Bureau of Investigations, is a specialist in kinesics or body language, making her a skilled interrogator. She gets a chance to question a convicted killer, Daniel “Son of Manson” Pell, who is serving a life term for murdering all but one member of a wealthy family years before. The “sleeping doll” is the family’s daughter, the one person who survived the attack by apparently sleeping through it undetected in her bedroom.
But after Pell is transferred to a facility where Dance can talk with him, everything goes wrong. Pell escapes, leaving a wake of dead and injured people behind him on the way out. He exerts increasing psychological control over his new accomplice, a young woman whose naïve picture of this poor misunderstood prisoner switches to something else as their relationship progresses.
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From there on out, it’s one of Deaver’s patented races to the finish line with all sorts of unexpected twists and turns – especially in the final pages. With the help of other law enforcement friends and the hindrance of some enemies, Dance has to figure out exactly what Pell is up to and to intercept him before he completes his mission.
To do this, she tracks down the three women who used to be members of Pell’s “family,” who committed crimes on his behalf and went to prison for them. Each of them have been marked by their time in his cult, damaged in ways that go on years later.
Dance makes a good heroine. A widow, she comes complete with a subplot of a love life that’s not so hot and obvious feelings for her married partner. But it is with the villain Pell that Deaver has really excelled in his creation of a very damaged and dangerous person, looking to create a world that he can control with his own special set of family values. – Margaret Downing
The Sleeping Doll, by Jeffery Deaver, Simon & Schuster, $26.95