Corte – no christian name, just Corte – is a “shepherd”. Working for a secretive government agency, he protects witnesses, ensuring that they reach their destinations safely. Henry Loving is a “lifter” – hired by an unknown party, he will find his victim and “lift” the required information from them – using any means necessary.
Six years earlier, Loving killed Corte’s mentor. Now, when a Washington police detective is targetted by Loving, Corte sees the possibility of revenge – but will he sacrifice his charges to do so? Who is Loving working for? Is Loving working alone? Or is someone playing a more dangerous game?
Jeffery Deaver has written about twenty eight thrillers to date, including nine in the popular Lincoln Rhyme series. Edge is a stand-alone novel. But is it any good? Indeed, is it even a mystery?
Well, yes to both counts, but it probably doesn’t really count as a classic mystery.
Let’s start with a bit of background. I think I’ve read all of Deaver’s works to date and it’s safe to say that he’s the master of the twist. I say master for the reason that he plays two games at once – first, there is the potential to be a big twist in the narrative about two-thirds of the way through, but second, there are the numerous little twists scattered throughout his books where you think something has happened, only for the truth of what occurred, for better or for worse, to be revealed in the next chapter. Even when you’re looking for it, Deaver is outstanding at making you look in the wrong direction.
Edge is full of these little twists – the prologue is a work of genius – and reading the book is a bit like riding a rollercoaster. You’re constantly being surprised at what is happening, and by the end, you’re pretty exhausted. If anything, Deaver is a victim of the reader knowing how many pages are left in the book. If the protagonist thinks they’ve got it all figured out and there are 100 pages left, then you know a busy writer such as Deaver isn’t going to spend 100 pages just chasing the bad guy – there’s more to come.
Having said that, there is one great twist that is great simply because it didn’t happen. Now that sounds pretty nebulous, so let’s try and clarify it without spoiling anything. Deaver has one trick that he prefers more than others – regular readers may know what I’m talking about here – and he sets up something near the end where it looks like he’s going to pull it again, but the satisfaction, to this long-time reader at least, is that he doesn’t do it. Things, for once, are what they seem.
The mystery element here is who has hired Loving and why – the information is there for you to make an informed guess, but there’s a lot of red herrings floating around as well – I’d be impressed if anyone actually “solved” it, but, to be honest, this bit’s the least satisfactory part of the book after the adrenaline ride of the previous section.
But then… a superb ending with, yes, one final outstanding twist, even outdoing the prologue.
Oh, and I should point out that you get some lessons in Game Theory throughout the book – Deaver often picks a topic to fill his books with facts about (for example graphology in The Devil’s Teardrop or electricity in The Burning Wire) and in this case, Corte is an expert in game theory and does his job by it.
So, to sum up. A great thriller, not quite up there with his best (the recent Roadside Crosses or the older The Coffin Dancer) but still a great read. Much, much better than the majority of thrillers out there – I almost literally couldn’t put it down, polishing it off in two sittings – and bonus points for not relying on the sexual prurience that seems to affect most writers in the genre these days. Mystery purists may be a little disappointed, but it’s certainly recommended by me.