The Bodies Left Behind: A Novel (Google eBook)
When a night-time call to 911 from a secluded Wisconsin vacation house is cut short, offduty deputy Brynn McKenzie leaves her husband and son at the dinner table and drives up to Lake Mondac to investigate. Was it a misdial or an aborted crime report?
Brynn stumbles onto a scene of true horror and narrowly escapes from two professional criminals. She and a terrified visitor to the weekend house, Michelle, flee into the woods in a race for their lives. As different as night and day, and stripped of modern-day resources, Brynn, a tough deputy with a difficult past, and Michelle, a pampered city girl, must overcome their natural reluctance to trust each other and learn to use their wits and courage to survive the relentless pursuit. The deputy's disappearance spurs both her troubled son and her new husband into action, while the incident sets in motion Brynn's loyal fellow deputies and elements from Milwaukee's underside. These various forces race along inexorably toward the novel's gritty and stunning conclusion.
The Bodies Left Behind is an epic cat-and-mouse chase, told nearly in real-time, and is filled with Deaver's patented twists and turns, where nothing is what it seems, and death lingers just around the next curve on a deserted path deep in the midnight forest.
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I have enjoyed a few other of Jeffrey Deaver's books but what I read of this one left me wanting to get back the hours I have wasted on it so far.
It starts out in what I had come to believe of as typical fast-paced and engaging Deaver style, with a well set-up murder scene and initial confrontation of protagonist and antagonists, but quickly deteriorates into an impossible collision of coincidences leading to one party of cop-turned-victim and a friend of the murdered family and no less than four (yes FOUR) other, independent, parties of hit-men, criminals, cops, kids and husbands all stumbling into each other and escaping, multiple times in 10,000 acres of dense, partially moon-lit forest, broken only by deep river gorges and steep craggy cliffs, by luck, guesswork, psychology, reverse psychology and (I kid you not!) even reverse-reverse psychology. The protagonist cop is so good that the author has to handicap her with first, the whiney prima-donna friend of the first victims, then as this princess remarkably evolves into a merciless killer herself, the nine-year old daughter of a family of meth-cookers they stumble on (and were nearly murdered by) during the chase, after they too (the meth-cookers) are murdered by the hit-men.
I haven't yet finished this book, because when the fourth party (who had driven out after the main action to check on the hit men's mission) manages to stumble onto all the other parties who are now engaged in a cheesy, climactic showdown on a vertical cliff face with the good guys just inches away from disposing of the hit-men, and starts taking rifle shots at them from a distance, letting the hit-men escape yet again, I had had enough.
Great story, complete with all the twists and turns you would expect from Deaver.