Deaver, Jeffery 1950–
Deaver, Jeffery 1950–
(Jeff Deaver, Jeffery Wilds Deaver, William Jefferies)
Born May 6, 1950, in Chicago, IL. Education: University of Missouri, B.A.; Fordham University, law degree. Hobbies and other interests: Folk music and singing; cooking and having dinner parties.
Writer. Has worked as an attorney.
Nominated for six Edgar Allan Poe Awards, Mystery Writers of America, including one for Manhattan Is My Beat; A Maiden's Grave was selected by the New York Times as a 1995 notable book; three-time winner of Ellery Queen Reader's Choice Award for best short story; W.H. Smith Thumping Good Read Award, 2001, for The Empty Chair; Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, Crime Writers Association of Great Britain, 2004, for Garden of Beasts; Short Stories Dagger Award, Crime Writers Association of Great Britain, 2004, for short story "The Weekender."
MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE NOVELS
Voodoo, Paperjacks, 1988.
Always a Thief, Paperjacks, 1988.
Mistress of Justice, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1992.
The Lesson of Her Death, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1993.
Praying for Sleep, Viking (New York, NY), 1994.
A Maiden's Grave, Viking (New York, NY), 1995.
The Devil's Teardrop, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.
Speaking in Tongues, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
The Blue Nowhere, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Triangle (e-book), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin 1936, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
The Sleeping Doll, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.
Manhattan Is My Beat, Bantam (New York, NY), 1989.
Death of a Blue Movie Star, Bantam (New York, NY), 1990.
Hard News, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1991.
"LOCATION SCOUT" SERIES; UNDER PSEUDONYM WILLIAM JEFFERIES
Shallow Graves, Avon (New York, NY), 1992.
Bloody River Blues, Avon (New York, NY), 1993.
Hell's Kitchen, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.
"LINCOLN RHYME" SERIES; CRIME NOVELS
The Bone Collector, Viking (New York, NY), 1997.
The Coffin Dancer, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.
The Empty Chair, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
The Stone Monkey, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
The Vanished Man, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
The Twelfth Card, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
The Cold Moon, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.
The Broken Window, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2008.
The Complete Law School Companion (nonfiction), J. Wiley (New York, NY), 1984, revised edition published as The Complete Law School Companion: How to Excel at America's Most Demanding Post-graduate Curriculum, 1992.
(Editor) A Century of Great Suspense Stories, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor) A Hot and Sultry Night for Crime, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2003.
Twisted: The Collected Stories of Jeffery Deaver, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
Nocturne: And Other Unabridged Twisted Stories (sound recording), Simon & Schuster Audio (New York, NY), 2004.
More Twisted: Collected Stories, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.
Also author of a novella, A Dish Served Cold, 2006, and of short stories; contributor to Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock magazines. Contributing editor to A New Omnibus of Crime, edited by Tony Hillerman and Sue Grafton, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005. Author's novels have been translated into two dozen languages.
A Maiden's Grave was filmed by HBO in 1997 as Dead Silence, starring James Garner and Marlee Matlin; The Bone Collector, filmed by Columbia Pictures in 1999, was directed by Phillip Noyce and starred Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie; film rights to The Blue Nowhere were sold to Warner Brothers; The Devil's Teardrop and Manhattan Is My Beat were both optioned for film; The Garden of Beasts was adapted to audiocassette, Simon & Schuster Audio, 2004; Twisted was adapted as a set of eleven CDs by Recorded Books, 2004.
Jeffery Deaver is a former attorney who has established himself as an author of mystery and suspense novels. Though his first book was a nonfiction legal publication, he soon switched to fiction and had immediate success. His first novel, Manhattan Is My Beat, garnered an Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination from the Mystery Writers of America. More novels have followed, including The Bone Collector, The Empty Chair, and The Coffin Dancer, which feature a quadriplegic detective named Lincoln Rhyme. Under the pseudonym William Jefferies, Deaver has also published several novels in the "Location Scout" series, including Bloody River Blues, Shallow Graves, and Hell's Kitchen.
Manhattan Is My Beat introduces a young woman named Rune, who later appears in Deaver's novels Death of a Blue Movie Star and Hard News. In Hard News, Rune, a television personality in New York, is charged with the job of trying to prevent transient Randy Boggs from being convicted in the murder of the network head. Her task is complicated by the murder of several key witnesses, an attempt on Boggs's life, a physical attack aimed at Rune herself, and Boggs's escape from prison. Joan G. Kotker, reviewing the novel in the Armchair Detective, reported that Rune has "some real credibility problems" but that "most readers will want to believe in her. She is an updated free spirit, bold, brave, funny, and honest."
The Lesson of Her Death features detective Bill Corde, who is assigned to investigate the murder of several college students in the Midwestern town of New Lebanon. A satanic cult is at first suspected of the crimes, but eventually Corde determines that he is tracking a serial killer. Corde's personal life is complicated by his nine-year-old daughter's learning disability and his wife's affair with his daughter's tutor. The stakes rise when Corde discovers that the serial killer is also tracking his daughter. Reviewers praised The Lesson of Her Death, including Library Journal contributor Elsa Pendleton, who felt that Corde's family problems "make a highly satisfying counterpart to the police-procedural aspects of the plot." Writing in Tribune Books, Chris Petrakos praised Deaver's "talent for capturing small-town rhythms and dialogue and creating finely drawn characters." A Publishers Weekly contributor concluded that "terror steadily accelerates in this page-turner until the final riveting secrets are revealed."
In Praying for Sleep, Michael Hrubek, a convicted rapist and murderer, escapes from a mental hospital. When lucid, Hrubek is determined to take revenge on Lisbonne Atcheson, whose testimony helped lock him away. At other times, however, Hrubek believes he is John Wilkes Booth and suffers guilt over having assassinated President Lincoln. Several different people are tracking Hrubek, including a former state trooper and his bloodhound, who have been hired by the mental hospital; Hrubek's psychologist, who is convinced of his patient's harmlessness; and Lisbonne's husband, a Vietnam veteran who is determined to kill Hrubek before the escapee can get to his wife. Booklist critic Ray Olson thought the character of Hrubek was "certainly balmy enough." A Kirkus Reviews critic called the novel "undeniably throat-clutching."
A Maiden's Grave is a hostage drama about three escaped convicts who take over a school bus full of deaf girls and their teachers. The leader of the convicts is Lou Handy, a murderer, and one of his accomplices is a child molester. To evade state troopers, the criminals drive the bus to the grisly environment of an abandoned slaughterhouse. One young hostage is released, then shot in the back as she reaches authorities. One of the teachers plots to escape and uses sign language to share the plan with her students. Arthur Potter, the FBI agent in charge of the hostage negotiations, tries to save the children, but he also has to contend with the Kansas state troopers, who want to pursue a more risky rescue operation. Marilyn Stasio reported in the New York Times Book Review: "The story is told in a fundamentally realistic style that intensifies the suspense until you could … well, scream." Pointing out the difficulties intrinsic to writing about a hostage situation—which tends to be static—Petrakos concluded in a Tribune Books article: "It takes a top-notch writer to keep everything taut, and that's exactly what Deaver does."
In The Bone Collector, Deaver introduces readers to detective Lincoln Rhyme, a quadriplegic who can move only one finger and solves crimes via his computer. His assistant, policewoman Amelia Sachs, helps him solve the case of a serial killer who is imitating murders described in a book about criminal activity in New York's past. The crimes the pair investigate are atypical—one victim is done in by high-pressure steam, another burned alive, another buried alive, yet another fed to rats. A Publishers Weekly contributor admired Deaver's "genuine forensic knowledge in evidence" and pointed out that the novel ends in "a climactic battle to the death that might make even teenage boys wince."
Rhyme returns in The Coffin Dancer, in which a hit man identified only by his tattoo of a dancing Grim Reaper terrorizes the New York area. Rhyme and Sachs put their forensic skills to work while facing a forty-eight-hour deadline in capturing the man before more catastrophe ensues. A writer for Entertainment Weekly praised the novel's "taut pacing and mind-bending techno-forensics," and People reviewer Pam Lambert urged readers to discover the book's "heart-pounding pace" and "hairpin twists."
Deaver's third Lincoln Rhyme novel is The Empty Chair. While in North Carolina to undergo surgery, Rhyme and Sachs become involved in the search to find two abducted young women following the murder of a local teenager. The main suspect is a troublemaker known as Insect Boy, whom Rhyme and Sachs soon capture. But then Sachs—Rhymes's protégé, intellectual equal, and lover—turns on him, insisting that Insect Boy is innocent. Rhyme and Sachs face off against each other in a suspenseful story. Reviewers appreciated Deaver's use of plot twists and characterization in The Empty Chair. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the plot twists "cleverly camouflaged for maximum effect," and the characters "colorful, back-country cutouts who serve their purpose well." Jeff Ayers, writing in the Library Journal, attested: "Deaver does a wonderful job of strengthening the characters of Lincoln and especially Amelia," adding that "when the suspense starts, the pages fly." David Pitt, a reviewer for Booklist, similarly felt that "Deaver is the master of the plot twist," and called the book "intricate, well written, and enormously satisfying."
Rhymes has continued to appear in regular installments in the series in books such as The Stone Monkey, The Vanished Man, and The Twelfth Card. In The Stone Monkey Rhyme and Sachs try to prevent the murder of the survivors of a boatload of Chinese immigrants by an evil man known as "The Ghost." The Vanished Man has a professional magician killing off people in bizarre ways as an act of revenge. In one of his biggest chal- lenges, Rhyme must use all his forensic skills to find a man who can seemingly disappear at will. In The Twelfth Card, Rhyme has to puzzle out why a high school student is being stalked in a case that might stretch back to events from 140 years ago.
Deaver continues to employ detailed forensic science in these mysteries, along with almost impossibly convoluted plots heavy in unexpected twists. Critics frequently noted the author's skill in plotting, usually admiring this prestidigitation. For example, in a School Library Journal review of The Stone Monkey, Katherine Fitch commented that the story includes "enough twists and turns to make readers dizzy." Reviewing The Vanished Man, a Publishers Weekly contributor felt that the author demonstrates a "masterful sleight of hand." For some critics, however, such devices can be tiresome at times. For instance, a Kirkus Reviews writer commented that The Vanished Man "eventually loses its sheen, and the manhunt ends in a sprawling, anticlimactic third act," and a Publishers Weekly contributor decided that The Twelfth Card displays "more brain than heart" in the author's emphasis on plot. Nevertheless, the same critic admitted that Deaver maintains an "unflagging ability to entertain" in this "robust thriller."
Deaver is also the author of the "Location Scout" series of crime novels, which he has published under the pseudonym William Jefferies. The hero, John Pellam, is a location scout for a movie studio who encounters murder and mayhem in his travels for work. In Shallow Graves, Pellam's coworker is killed by unwelcoming townies when they move to a small upstate New York town where the studio wants to shoot a film. Rather than leaving, Pellam is determined to get to the bottom of his partner's murder. Pellam stumbles into danger again in Bloody River Blues. While scouting a film location in Missouri, he crosses paths with contract killers who decide to murder him before he can identify them in the murder of a local racketeer. When the federal government and the FBI get involved, Pellam's personal life and career are once again filled with intrigue. Hell's Kitchen finds Pellam in New York City to film a documentary. An elderly woman he has interviewed for the project becomes a prime suspect in a tenement fire that kills a tenant. Pellam suspects there is more to the case and works to prove the woman's innocence. Some reviewers of the "Location Scout" novels had reservations about them. For example, a Publishers Weekly reviewer felt that "Pellam's character is lacking in charisma."
Deaver's exploration of forensics continues in his non-series titles, such as The Devil's Teardrop. Former FBI agent Parker Kincaid is persuaded to assist authorities in trying to catch terrorists who open fire in a crowded subway stop in Washington, DC, on December 31, 1999. Worried about losing custody of his children because of his involvement in such a dangerous case, Parker reluctantly lends his expertise in document forensics when a ransom note is discovered that threatens to kill more people if twenty million dollars is not sent to the killers immediately. Kincaid tries to unravel the mystery while politicians and the media add their voices to the fray. A Publishers Weekly writer called the book "rapidly paced, wholly engrossing." Booklist contributor Michelle Foyt described it as "a consummate thriller … with a Machiavellian sociopath at its heart."
In Speaking in Tongues, a maniacal psychiatrist kidnaps troubled teenager Megan McCall and takes her to an abandoned mental institution. Her divorced parents join police in the search for her, while her captor attempts to thwart their efforts. Critics again praised Deaver's command of the suspense genre. A Publishers Weekly reviewer, for one, claimed that the book's "dialogue-driven prose, in short, strong sentences and paragraphs," propels the plot.
In The Blue Nowhere a psychopathic computer hacker uses technology to gather information on his murder victims. To capture the ruthless killer, police rely on convicted hacker Wyatt Gillette. Gillette and Phate, as the killer calls himself, chase each other through the Internet—the Blue Nowhere—instead of city streets. Reviewers praised Deaver's ability to create suspense from a plot involving characters staring at computer screens. A Publishers Weekly writer called the novel "the most exciting, and most vivid, fiction" yet written about computer crime, and added that Deaver "makes the hacker world come alive in all its midnight, reality cracking intensity." Edward Karam, a reviewer for People called The Blue Nowhere a "paranoid nightmare" in which "Deaver fills every keystroke with suspense."
Deaver earned renewed acclaim with Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin 1936, which received the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award in 2004. In this historical thriller, the FBI makes a deal with a hit man named Paul Schumann: He will not be sent to prison if he agrees to go to Germany and assassinate Reinhardt Ernst, a Nazi working to rebuild Germany's military. Schumann goes undercover as a reporter writing about the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He is betrayed, however, and consequently faces a moral dilemma to either do the right thing or escape with his life. School Library Journal critic Pam Johnson was impressed by the "historical facts skillfully woven into the fiction" of Deaver's tale, and recommended it as a "fast-paced, tightly plotted" novel.
Deaver returns to Lincoln Rhyme with his book The Cold Moon, published in 2006. "Spending time with the likably crusty Rhyme is always a delight," remarked David Pitt in Booklist. In The Cold Moon, Rhyme and Amelia Sachs must try to foil a killer who calls himself the Watchmaker. His murders are carefully and elaborately planned, and at his crime scenes he leaves his signature in the form of a ticking clock. A subplot turns on the fact that Amelia is handling the lead role in a homicide case for the first time, a situation that complicates her legal and personal relationship with Rhyme. Deaver continues to deliver his trademark, tightly plotted story, one that will leave readers "shocked and amazed," according to Jeff Ayers in Library Journal. Rhyme also makes an appearance in More Twisted: Collected Stories. David Pitt, reviewing for Booklist, commented that the stories in the collection are "gems" distinguished by fast pacing and "sharply observed" dialog. A Publishers Weekly reviewer also found several "clever and concise thrillers" in the collection.
A secondary character from The Cold Moon takes the lead in a projected new detective series, beginning with The Sleeping Doll. The character is Kathryn Dance, an expert in kinesics (body language) and interrogation. The Sleeping Doll pits Dance against Daniel Pell, a cruel sociopath who is a serial killer and the father figure to a group of runaway youths. While the story is tightly plotted as usual, the characters are nevertheless "nicely detailed," and the scenes where Kathryn uses her expertise in body language to unravel the mystery are "fascinating," according to a Publishers Weekly writer.
Deaver has served as editor, and sometimes a contributor as well, for several volumes of short stories. A Century of Great Suspense Stories, published in 2001, collects thirty-six stories by a wide range of authors, including works of both suspense and mystery—a flaw noted by one contributor for Kirkus Reviews. The bulk of the stories were written in the latter half of the twentieth century, with just five of them dating from further back. Deaver has included both well-known works and more obscure offerings, and has included stories from a variety of authors, including Stephen King, Ross Macdonald, Tony Hillerman, Georges Simenon, Mickey Spillane, Sara Paretsky, Laurence Block, Michael Malone, Ruth Rendell, and Donald E. Westlake. Certain standard authors are notably absent, including Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Raymond Chandler. However, overall Deaver provides readers with a solid collection. The Kirkus Reviews writer dubbed the book "a fair enough ragbag, if you don't take that title too seriously."
In 2003, Deaver edited A Hot and Sultry Night for Crime, a collection of twenty stories written by members of the Mystery Writers of America in keeping with the titled theme, which refers to the way summertime heat and an increase in the crime rate often go hand in hand. The term heat was used loosely by these writers, and so in some cases refers more to tempers or passion than the reading on the thermometer. Contributing authors include Ronnie Klaskin, Toni L.P. Kelner, Loren D. Estleman, John Lutz, and Ana Rainwater. Deaver himself also provides an entry, with his story "Ninety-eight Point Six." Despite the list of writers, which includes several heavy hitters, and the steamy theme, some critics found the stories uneven, with only a few living up to the title, including Deaver's own. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly declared of the works that "only a few stories generate enough heat to warm a reader's heart."
The anthology Twisted: The Collected Stories of Jeffery Deaver, also published in 2003 and edited by Deaver, collects a number of crime short stories, all of which have some link to the title, be it the overall mood of the story, the no-good characters that inhabit them, or clever twists of plot. The majority of the tales are reprinted from earlier releases, many in periodicals, and only one is an original story. Deaver's "The Christmas Present" features his longtime character Lincoln Rhyme and his partner Amelia Sachs in a case where they attempt to save a woman from the man they assume is tracking her, only to find they actually have to rescue her from someone else entirely. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly declared that "like an afternoon snack, this snappy volume will stave off hunger for Deaver fans until his next novel appears."
Discussing his work on his Web site, Deaver commented that he would characterize much of his fiction as belonging to the thriller genre: "It's accurate to the extent that I explore the psychology of crime and crime detection in my books: the minds of the criminal and his hunters. I also try very hard to create characters—both heroes and villains—with psychological depth. In other words, the people who populate my books are more than caricatures. We inhabit their minds throughout much of the book. Of course—as in my ‘Lincoln Rhyme’ series—there's a great deal of forensics and police work that has little to do with psychological profiling."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Armchair Detective, fall, 1992, Joan G. Kotker, review of Manhattan Is My Beat, p. 496.
Booklist, November 15, 1993, Ray Olson, review of Praying for Sleep, p. 580; June 15, 1999, Michelle Foyt, review of The Devil's Teardrop, p. 105; March 1, 2000, David Pitt, review of The Empty Chair, p. 1147; May 1, 2006, David Pitt, review of The Cold Moon, p. 24; January 1, 2007, David Pitt, review of More Twisted: Collected Stories, p. 62.
Bookseller, May 19, 2006, Stuart Lemon, review of The Cold Moon, p. 13.
Entertainment Weekly, September 18, 1998, review of The Coffin Dancer, p. 82; December 22, 2006, Tanner Stransky, review of More Twisted, p. 87.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 1993, review of Praying for Sleep, pp. 1408-1409; September 1, 2001, review of A Century of Great Suspense Stories, p. 1247; January 1, 2003, review of The Vanished Man, p. 8; April 15, 2006, review of The Cold Moon, p. 366; December 1, 2006, review of More Twisted, p. 1199; February 1, 2007, review of The Sleeping Doll, p. 8.
Library Journal, July, 1993, Elsa Pendleton, review of The Lesson of Her Death, pp. 118-119; April 1, 2000, Jeff Ayers, review of The Empty Chair, p. 129; June 15, 2006, Jeff Ayers, review of The Cold Moon, p. 55.
New York Times Book Review, October 22, 1995, Marilyn Stasio, review of A Maiden's Grave, p. 35; June 11, 2006, interview with Jeffrey Deaver, p. 31.
People, August 31, 1998, Pam Lambert, review of The Coffin Dancer, p. 40; June 18, 2001, Edward Karam, review of The Blue Nowhere, p. 41.
Publishers Weekly, April 5, 1993, review of The Lesson of Her Death, p. 68; December 16, 1996, review of The Bone Collector; June 14, 1999, review of The Devil's Teardrop, p. 53; April 3, 2000, review of The Empty Chair, p. 62; November 6, 2000, review of Speaking in Tongues, p. 72; January 22, 2001, review of Hell's Kitchen, p. 308; April 30, 2001, review of The Blue Nowhere, p. 56; January 20, 2003, review of The Vanished Man, p. 54, review of A Hot and Sultry Night for Crime, p. 60; December 1, 2003, review of Twisted: The Collected Stories of Jeffery Deaver, p. 42; April 18, 2005, review of The Twelfth Card, p. 42; April 3, 2006, review of The Cold Moon, p. 37; November 20, 2006, review of More Twisted, p. 37; April 2, 2007, review of The Sleeping Doll, p. 39.
School Library Journal, July, 2002, Katherine Fitch, review of The Stone Monkey, p. 143; January, 2005, Pam Johnson, review of Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin 1936, p. 158.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), May 16, 1993, Chris Petrakos, review of The Lesson of Her Death, p. 6; October 15, 1995, Chris Petrakos, review of A Maiden's Grave, p. 6.
BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (June 1, 2007), Jay Lee Macdonald, author interview.
Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (June 1, 2007), author interview.
Crime Writers Association, http://www.thecwa.co.uk/ (June 1, 2007), author biography.
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (June 1, 2007).
Jeffery Deaver Official Web site, http://www.jefferydeaver.com (June 11, 2007).
Shots,http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/ (June 1, 2007), author interview.
Telegraph Online (London, England), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ (September 7, 2006), "A Writer's Life: Jeffery Deaver."