The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver
I've been a fan of Jeffery Deaver's writing style and characters for a long time, but I've been unable to find any new Lincoln Rhyme books at the local library that I haven't already read so when I was there last and saw a book written by him that I hadn't read before, I snatched it up. In The Cold Moon, an earlier Lincoln Rhyme novel, the character Kathryn Dance was introduced. The Sleeping Doll is the first book where she plays the lead character.
Kathryn Dance is an investigator with the California Bureau of Investigation specializing in kinesics, and is called in to question a convicted murderer named Daniel Pell, a Charles Manson-like killer who led a small cult, about another murder which has evidence that points to the fact that he did it. He was convicted of killing an entire family and also his co-conspirator during a robbery. There was a witness left behind; a 9 year old girl the press refers to as The Sleeping Doll because she was asleep under her dolls at the time of the murders and was overlooked. After the interview she realizes that he set up the entire thing to escape from the lower security prison where the interview was held since he was no longer in maximum security. The CBI and prison officials and various police forces rush to stop him from escaping but to no avail. He escapes and then the real story begins.
The book follows Kathryn and her fellow CBI investigators as they hunt down Daniel Pell who, for some reason they're unable to discern, isn't leaving the area and seems determined to finish some unfinished business. Joining the team is an FBI cult expert who works with her to figure out Pell's motives for staying in the area and together with a freelance journalist who is writing a true crime book about the case, they track down the former cult members who were a part of Pell's "family" as well as the now teenage witness and try to figure out how he escaped, who is helping him on the run and what his final plan is.
Deaver writes with loads of expression and twists and turns. It's actually hard to write this review because too many details would give away too much of the plot and there are several plot twists and turns that seem to come from the most innocuous detail. The book is very similar in tone to the Lincoln Rhyme novels and weirdly reminded me of the television show "The Mentalist" and not just because both lead characters (the book and the show) work for the CBI. How she reads people and discerns the things they aren't verbally saying reminds me of the Patrick Jane character. Of course she's a trained investigator and he is a former "medium" but there were similarities between the characters that popped into my head several times while reading it.
I really enjoyed the book and found it very easy to read and with a solid, stable plot. The twist at the end was predictable but enjoyable. I wasn't upset with the ending either, unlike some books where it's very disappointing how the authors end the book with a twist that really had nothing to do with the story (Jodi Picoult, I'm looking at you). All in all, it was a good starting point for a new series of novels along the same vein as Deaver's Rhyme novels.