XO by Jeffery Deaver

XOKayleigh Towne is the latest star of the Country music scene. Basically think Taylor Swift and you’re not far away. Edwin Sharp is her biggest fan, sending her letters signed “XO”. Lots of letters. All declaring his undying love for her. And now he’s in town to meet her face to face.

But when someone starts sending threats based on the verses to Kayleigh’s smash hit “Your Shadow” and people around her start dying, suspicion points towards Edwin. But it seems that there may be more than one person hiding in the shadows…

Luckily, Kayleigh’s good chums with Katherine Dance, CBI investigator and expert in body language, who’s in town on vacation. Needless to say, her vacation didn’t last very long…

Jeffery Deaver has written some of my favourite thrillers. The Lincoln Rhyme series is almost always of a high standard, with The Coffin Dancer still being one of my top thrillers ever. The Cold Moon and The Burning Wire are also up there, and the non-series The Devil’s Teardrop is also outstanding. He is often described as being a master of the twist-laden thriller and I was really looking forward to this one, especially as I had been completely wrong-footed by Roadside Crosses, the previous Dance novel. You can see where I’m going already, can’t you…

I’m not sure I’ve ever been this disappointed with a Deaver thriller, and the problem may well be that I’ve simply read too many of them. The beats of the plot seemed very familiar and, for a book centering on the music industry, slightly out of rhythm. I saw them coming from quite some distance, and the overall picture was too similar to another of his (much better) books. In one way, it’s a good thing it did follow this pattern, as otherwise it was going in a very disturbing direction…

And Dance’s body language (sorry, kinesis) skills seemed to be very much on the back burner. Most of her deductions seemed to come from her, well, deductive skills rather than her particular specialism. Again, realistic, but rather odd given her particular skill set. Even Lincoln Rhyme showing up doesn’t help, as he simply takes over the book for a few chapters. It’s usually nice to see him, but I really liked the character of Dance previously and would have liked to have seen more of her doing her own thing.

It’s not all bad – I was impressed by the behaviour of Kayleigh in the final chapters – won’t say any more than that, but very resourceful.

So, sorry to say, lined up against Deaver’s back catalogue, it doesn’t hold up very well. Against a lot of other writers’ work in the genre, it’s perfectly good, but I’ve come to expect something special every time.  Maybe I need to start stalking him…


  1. A very interesting post. I have not read much by Jeffrey Deaver at all (only The Bone Collector), and had wondered whether to try the Katherine Dance series. I guess I will keep moving through the Lincoln Rhyme series and maybe try some stand-alone books.


    • The Bone Collector is one of yhe weakest Rhyme books, plotwise at least. But book 2 is The Coffin Dancer which is a treat. The first Dance book is fine but Roadside Crosses is much better.


  2. I haven’t read any of his books. Can you recommend a man-on-the-run, preferably non-police-procedural, type Deaver novel for me to start with?


    • Non-police would be difficult as most of his books have a lawperson as the lead. Maybe Speaking In Tongues would be a good one to try. If memory serves, and it has been a long time since I read it, that might be the sort of thing.


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