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The Sleeping Doll    by Jeffery Deaver order for
Sleeping Doll
by Jeffery Deaver
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Fans of Jeffery Deaver's brilliant Lincoln Rhyme thrillers will remember Kathryn Dance, who helped him in The Cold Moon. An investigator with the California Bureau of Investigation, she's also a kinesic analyst who interrogates subjects, studying their body language, as well as verbal and written communication, to determine whether or not they're being deceptive on specifics. She gets her own name in lights in The Sleeping Doll.

The phrase has an ominous ring, especially in the face of Deaver's well-earned reputation as a skillful spinner of suspense. And ominous it is. Daniel Pell is perhaps the most challenging adversary CBI agent Kathryn Dance has ever faced. She is a master interrogator, especially intuitive, with an edge granted by her expertise in kinesics. Pell, accustomed to dominating and manipulating others, hates and fears her after experiencing her uncanny accuracy in predicting his behaviour. Pell has been called Son of Manson for the group of young people, his so-called family - that he mesmerized, and for the nature of his murders.

Pell faces life in prison after the multiple murders of a prominent family, the only survivor a child hidden in her bed, dubbed the sleeping doll by the media. He escapes custody when brought out of his high security prison for interrogation by Kathryn in connection with another crime. Pell's ruthlessness, charisma, and brilliance make him formidable; and Kathryn, who is heading the manhunt to recapture him, is hard pressed to keep on his trail. Worst of all, he is behaving like a predator, not prey; the body count mounts fast.

Deaver presents fascinating portraits of Pell, his cohorts, the crime-fighters trying to trap him, and the many victims of his crimes. Part of the urgency of the plot comes from the collateral damage inflicted during Pell's flight. His victims go beyond the dead; others bleed and continue to hurt long after the death of a loved one. Pell feels no remorse or hesitation in removing any obstacle in his path, and the ease with which he manipulates others is chilling.

Jeffery Deaver is known for intricate, well-crafted plots, fleshed out with vivid characters, and The Sleeping Doll will not disappoint his myriad of fans. Kathryn Dance is a competent and likeable protagonist who faces multiple challenges, both professional and personal, with equanimity. There are many unexpected twists, with suspense aplenty, to make this an especially exciting read.

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