Lions and tigers and blogs, oh my! Deaver taps into the dark side of the Internet in a thriller that is part social commentary and part vicious killings. A common theme links a series of murders: a rose-bedecked roadside cross with the date of the latest killing scrawled in permanent marker.
In a world where the Internet gives everyone a voice, Deaver stumbles upon fertile ground. An outrageous accident that tales the lives of two teenaged girls. Postings on a popular blog, The Chilton Report, where the young man driving the car is vilified by his anonymous accusers. Soon the site buzzes with outrage, Travis Bingham the obvious suspect as innocent victims in Monterey County are attacked, the acts memorialized by the appearance of rose-strewn roadside crosses.
All the elements are here: a cyber-bully attacking those who have revealed too much online, making themselves vulnerable to a monster that preys on their fears. When Kathryn Dance, kinesics expert at the California Bureau of Investigation, begins her investigation, the publicís imagination is soon engaged, the blog a hotbed of rumors and accusations, Travis in the wind, striking with yet another attack and another roadside cross.
(Wait - kinesics expert? Whatís that? Apparently, Danceís particular talent is reading the body language of suspects, the minor ďtellsĒ that convey what a person intends to hide. But there must be an actual human present for Kathryn to read.)
Using her considerable resources, Kathryn leads her team into unfamiliar territory - the Internet - unable to get Travis in their sights before he takes off again, often into a virtual world of avatars and esoteric names, the seductive underbelly of the Internetís gaming community. As the virtual world intrudes on the real, dead bodies proof enough of malice, other more banal considerations bring this plot back to the realm of criminal activity - murder, greed, ambition and betrayal on a more human scale.
Meanwhile, Deaver plunders the outrageous - blogs, multi-player online role-playing games, the disappearance of an entire generation down the rabbit hole of the gaming community to obfuscate the real story. Toss in a few distractions - an arrest for a mercy killing, a potential terrorist threat, a controversial desalinization plant - and you have a strange brew of fact and fiction, disaffected youth and a stone cold killer, all there for Dance to disentangle along with a confusing personal life.
Roadside Crosses starts out with promise, but Deaverís novel, like the Internet, becomes unwieldy in its ambition, clogged with the demands for attention of a bizarre assortment of characters and criminals, too many detours and not enough focus.