The book business just isn’t what it used to be, Jeffery Deaver admits in an interview promoting his new Kathryn Dance mystery, XO, where a deranged stalker threatens a popular country western singer. Besides writing the mystery, Deaver, who once worked as a songwriter, also composed the lyrics to nearly a dozen tunes scattered throughout the pages as clues to the killer. Why not, Deaver thought, record one of those songs and as a “value added” for readers include a music clip on his website? After recording the first song, “Your Shadow,” the music producer Deaver was working with suggested recording the others. He formed a company, found a singer, Treva Blomquist, and did just that.
Explaining his strategy, Deaver noted that authors these days need to be aware of a “confluence of media,” the coming together of the many different art forms. In other words, it’s no longer enough to simply write a satisfying page-turner. The savvy author will look for other ways to market a book. So now Deaver’s fans can read XO and then download the songs. A perfect win-win.
Of course, none of this works if Deaver’s new novel fails to excite his audience. Fortunately, he turns in another one of his stellar efforts that not only includes many twists and turns, but also provides fascinating information on the music industry, the psyche of stalkers, and the science of kinesics, interpreting facial tics and body language. A brief appearance by noted criminologist Lincoln Rhyme, who manages to identify the killer by examining trace substances, is another “value added.”
Kathryn Dance is an appealing character. The CBI special agent is a widow with two children trying to decide between the two men in her life, Michael O’Neil, a fellow CBI agent, and Jon Boling, a consultant. An expert in kinesics, Dance is visiting her friend, country western singer, Kayleigh Towne, whose safety is threatened by stalker Edwin Sharpe. Soon people close to Kayleigh start to die and Dance, aided by local police officers and O’Neil, try to discover the killer while keeping Kayleigh safe. Sharpe, however, proves to be a worthy adversary, giving away nothing in his interviews with Dance and repeatedly evading surveillance. Is he a harmless fan or a killer? Dance needs to find out before Kayleigh dies.
Deaver is expert at including information while not having those passages impede the narrative flow. In fact, some of these sections are compelling themselves. Watch for the one on why the music industry is in such dire straits. You’ve heard it before but never in such succinct and reasonable language.
Will Deaver start a new trend? Can we look forward to other writers putting their works to music? Stay iTuned.