Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review of "XO" [63]

XO: A Kathryn Dance Novel 
by Jeffery Deaver
Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-1439156377
June 12, 2012, 400 pages

California Bureau of Investigation's Kathryn Dance is on vacation, heading down to Fresno to pursue her hobby of "songcatching", recording local folk music, and also catching the concert of a friend, young country singer Kayleigh Towne. But shortly, it becomes very questionable that the concert will go on. One of Kayleigh's crew is killed in a horrible stage 'accident' which is, of course, no accident at all and the number one suspect is a man named Edwin Sharp who has been stalking Kayleigh and has also shown up in town for the concert. And the killing seems to have a connection to the words of one of Kayleigh's songs, "Your Shadow", which Edwin thinks was written just for him. But Edwin is one clever stalker...and perhaps murderer...staying just barely on the right side of legal and giving investigators quite a run for their money. He always seems to be one step ahead of the cops and it almost seems like he can read minds.

When a second body turns up, again tied to the song, police are even more sure it is Edwin...well, unless, as he suggests, he is being framed..or he wants them to think he is being framed and is really guilty...you get the idea.
Can local police, with the assistance of Dance, figure it all out before someone else, even Kayleigh herself, is a victim?

I read a glowing review of this book in the NY Times and have heard good things about Deaver's books in the past but never read one, so this seemed like the book to read!
How did that work out? Hmmmmm, OK, but not great.
So, where to start....

I actually like country music, so having that as a large element of the story was rather interesting. And you know I love a strong female lead character, so that should have been a plus but oddly did not pan out in this case. Dancer's name is in the title, so you might think she is at the center of the book, but there is something rather weak about her character, not enough to support this book. It does not help that she has to admit that her specialty, kinesics, the study of body language, is useless with Edwin. So the point of her being there is...what? And I will not even mention her personal life, where she, a supposedly smart woman, a trained investigator, makes a stupid assumption based on very limited information that has her doing something quite foolish...ok, yes, I did tell you after all, didn't I? And why the heck did she not have her gun with her or get one really quickly when the bodies started to drop. Oh, I hate characters that act in a stupid way.

But the major problem for me is probably our villain..or framed innocent man...Edwin. OK, he is weird but are we suppose to hate him..or feel sorry for him? Is he suppose to be creepy or just odd and misunderstood. It keeps changing back and forth and after a bit, I was not sure I cared that much. What was suppose to be a clever twist, on top of another clever twist, on top of another clever twist were not actually that clever, since I saw them coming a mile away. And the fact that there were a lot of pages left when the villain had supposedly been found. Bit of a giveaway, that.

And then there was the totally out of place sub-plot of a political assignation..what that was doing in this book made no sense. Editor please!Red pen!

OK, yes, I had a few problems with this one. I could go on. But really, it was not a bad book, more a very middling book, which is not what I hoped for from a best selling writer. Maybe if I had went in with lesser expectations I would have been a little happier with it. Maybe if I had checked the reviews on Amazon first, which are, to put it kindly, not great, not even good.
As it is, I really cannot see running out to get my hands on any of Deaver's other books. And that tells the tale.


  1. I've never read Deaver's work. I wonder if you just picked the wrong one to start with.

  2. rinse your reading palette then go get one of Deaver's Lincoln Rhymes series - those are excellent.

  3. I haven't read any Deaver either. So your review is reassuring! :--) Plus, the cover is creepy!

    1. No, I did not like the cover either, but I figured I had enough complaints already..lol

  4. I've never read Deaver but he's sort of been on the readar screen for a while. I guess I'll just scrap that from the memorybank.
    On another note, the movie "Songcatcher" was excellent. Took place in NC. Can't even remember who was in it but it was very enjoyable.


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