Monday, October 25, 2021

XO – A Kathryn Dance Novel




Diane Bostick


Author: Jeffrey Deaver

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2012


I have always enjoyed Jeffrey Deaver’s books. He manages to keep me on the edge of my seat, and occasionally, with the covers over my head. His characters usually personify pure evil. I wouldn’t put him in the class of some of the books I read in my younger days but he certainly has no problem keeping me in suspense. If you are now in your “younger days” you might not have read some of the books that kept me pale and sweaty palmed so I will take the time to point out one of my favorites, The Shining by Stephen King. One can pretty well count on most anything by this author to keep you shivering and looking frequently over your shoulder. And I can not even tell you why some of the things he describes are so darn scary. In The Shining topiary plants that move will scare the pants off you. Now I ask you, what is so scary about a topiary bush? Read it and you will see. And if you take into consideration Jack Nicholson plays the bad guy in the movie made from the book you pretty much know instantly that it is a movie you will want to see with someone you can grab hold of while you are watching. If you have ever heard the quote, “Daddy’s home” and wondered why it seemed to have people giggling nervously you will understand it after you see Jack at his scariest. If you haven’t read it you will still find it available both at libraries and book stores. Unfortunately when I went to see if my other two favorites were available they did not seem to be. Perhaps a used book store might still have The Amityville Horror, about a demon infested house, or The Wolfen, a book about wolf like creatures in New York City. Both are guaranteed to give you the willies!

But, to get back to Mr. Deaver and his newest book, XO, (as in “kisses and hugs,”) the basic premise of the book is that a young C & W singer, Kayleigh Towne, is being constantly stalked by one of her admirers, the obsessive Edwin Sharp. Edwin has come to the conclusion the Kayleigh is quite willing to welcome him into her life. He has sent her more than a few fan letters, gifts, and emails to which she seems to have most welcomingly responded. The week prior to a big concert to be held in the town where she began her career, she is once again contacted by Edwin. He has rented a house for the month and makes his presence obvious in many ways. As preparations are underway for the big event tragedy strikes and one of her crew, Bobby, is killed in a gruesome and vicious way , though it, at first, appears to be an accident. One of Kayleigh’s friends, Kathryn Dance of the California Bureau of Investigation, happens to be in town on vacation and unwittingly becomes involved in the police investigation of who killed Bobby. Before long she decides that she must involve herself completely in the case, despite the fact that the local police are obviously most unhappy to have her do so. After other events occur that point to a real danger to Kayleigh, presumably, from Edwin, and she sees how ineptly the case is being handled by the locals, she asks her superiors to put her on the case. It is quickly decided that the words in many of the songs the singer/writer has composed contain clues as to where and how the next crime is to occur. There are the usual twists and turns of any Deaver novel and there is more than one murder, or attempted murder, to solve and all clues seem to point to Edwin and his obsession with Kayleigh. We are, of course, thrown more than one red herring to throw us off course when we are sure we have solved the case.

It seems obvious to me that the character of Kayleigh is based rather closely on the real life Taylor Swift. She, too, is a young, beautiful, innocent and very popular singer who writes her own songs based on her own life experiences. She writes songs that others can, and do, relate to. She even experiences having the microphone taken from her while receiving a major music award. If you are not a C & W fan you might not be aware that this very thing happened to Ms. Swift at the Video Music Awards when Kanye West stormed the stage just after the first award, for Best Female Video, was presented to her. He cut her off by grabbing the microphone and protesting her award in support of Beyoncé.

When I looked up some biographical information about Mr. Deaver, I was amazed to discover that, in addition to being a masterful writer of mystery novels, he also writes and performs his own songs around the country, so he would certainly know his stuff when it comes to describing what is involved in a singing tour.

Mr. Deaver also knows his stuff when it comes to writing a gripping mystery novel, as he has proven once again in XO.

Diane Bostick has lived on Marco Island since 1987. She was the Founder and President of Ft. Myers chapter of the Association of Children with Learning Disabilities, President of Jr. Welfare League, Ft. Myers Chapter, and served on the board of Art League of Marco Island. She is an avid reader, fly fisherwoman, tennis player and crafter.

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