Simon and Schuster, Jun 9 2009, $26.95
The Chilton Report blog, owned and operated by Jim Chilton, opens up a discussion thread dubbed Roadside Crosses, which questions why an accident occurred on the spot where two roadsides intersect. The teens were going home after a graduation party; but two died, one was hospitalized and driver Travis Brigham hardly had a scratch. On the blog, everyone attacks Travis holding him responsible for vehicular homicide.
He becomes the victim of a cyber war in which each part is uglier than the previously horrific segue as people accuse him of all sorts of crimes. Tammy Parker was kidnapped and thrown into the trunk if her car, which he drove into the ocean at high tide; she was fortunate to be rescued. She said Travis did it Another female almost died from poisonous fumes; she tells the cops Travis did it.
California Bureau of Investigation agent Kathryn Dance investigates Travis, but when she tries to see him a second time, he is gone. As more people on the blog claim Travis attacked them, Kathryn applies her kinesics expertise to separate the lies from the truth in hopes of catching Travis before he kills again; he knows if he is caught he has no prayer as the evidence is extraordinarily overwhelming.
Jeffrey Deaver, author of the great Lincoln Rhymes mysteries, has another hit series with the Kathryn Dance police procedurals (see THE SLEEPING DOLL). The protagonist seems genuine because she makes mistakes even with her being the department’s expert on reading body language. As she follows clues that seem to inch her closer to the perpetrator, she must deal with her mom being arrested for a mercy killing while also coping with the Blog attacks coaxing politicians to pressure her and other cops to catch Travis. There are plenty of red herrings and misdetections as Mr. Deaver provides an intriguing high tech thriller; that besides an exhilarating cat and mouse murder investigation looks deep into the influence of blogs.