The Bodies Left Behind: A Novel

The Bodies Left Behind: A Novel

3.7 86
by Jeffery Deaver
     
 

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When a night-time call to 911 from a secluded Wisconsin vacation house is cut short, offduty deputy Brynn McKenzie leaves her husband and son at the dinner table and drives up to Lake Mondac to investigate. Was it a misdial or an aborted crime report?

Brynn stumbles onto a scene of true horror and narrowly escapes from two professional criminals. She and a

Overview

When a night-time call to 911 from a secluded Wisconsin vacation house is cut short, offduty deputy Brynn McKenzie leaves her husband and son at the dinner table and drives up to Lake Mondac to investigate. Was it a misdial or an aborted crime report?

Brynn stumbles onto a scene of true horror and narrowly escapes from two professional criminals. She and a terrified visitor to the weekend house, Michelle, flee into the woods in a race for their lives. As different as night and day, and stripped of modern-day resources, Brynn, a tough deputy with a difficult past, and Michelle, a pampered city girl, must overcome their natural reluctance to trust each other and learn to use their wits and courage to survive the relentless pursuit. The deputy's disappearance spurs both her troubled son and her new husband into action, while the incident sets in motion Brynn's loyal fellow deputies and elements from Milwaukee's underside. These various forces race along inexorably toward the novel's gritty and stunning conclusion.

The Bodies Left Behind is an epic cat-and-mouse chase, told nearly in real-time, and is filled with Deaver's patented twists and turns, where nothing is what it seems, and death lingers just around the next curve on a deserted path deep in the midnight forest.

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
The meticulously structured plot moves back and forth between hunter and hunted, covering a big stretch of wild country…a thrill-a-minute wilderness adventure.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Usually a strong plotter, bestseller Deaver (The Bone Collector) fails to deliver on the promise of this stand-alone thriller's nicely creepy opening. When two masked men break into the isolated lakeside weekend house of Steven Feldman, who works for the Milwaukee Department of Social Services, and his wife, Emma, an attorney who may have stumbled on union corruption in the course of some corporate research, Steven has just enough time to phone 911 before the intruders shoot him and Emma dead. That interrupted plea for help brings Deputy Brynn McKenzie, who possesses a set of predictable emotional baggage (an abusive ex-wife, a troubled teenage son), to the scene. A protracted and less than suspenseful game of cat-and-mouse between McKenzie and the hired guns responsible for the murders ensues. A few twists will catch some readers by surprise, but the pacing and characterizations aren't up to Deaver's best. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews

More thrills from the genre's master prestidigitator (The Broken Window, 2008, etc.).

Steven and Emma Feldman retreat from their jobs in Milwaukee to Wisconsin's Marquette State Park. But they haven't retreated far enough to keep two armed and masked men from breaking into their place. Responding to a 911 call Steven made moments before he was shot dead, sheriff's deputy Brynn McKenzie is swiftly pulled into a night of terror. In short order she's deprived of her sidearm and cell phone and saddled with flighty actress Michelle Kepler, the Feldmans' house guest, who promoted herself from inconvenient witness to priority target when she winged one of the intruders with his own gun. It's a pleasure watching Deaver, who has no rivals in the realm of sneaky plot twists, spin out a series of cat-and-mouse games through which the hired guns and the two unexpectedly resourceful women try to outwit each other. With a logician's skill, he exhausts every possibility for shifting advantages within each situation before adding a single new element—a car alarm, a canoe, a pair of campers with their adorable little girl—into the mix to provide new opportunities. The result is a tour de force in which the suspense never flags for the first 250 pages. But Deaver's fatal inability to leave well enough alone is as much on display as his trademark cleverness, and Brynn and Michelle's ordeal is followed by a series of further (and further) revelations as dazzling as they are preposterous, finishing touches that show why the best suspense novels depend on making you forget that you're reading a book, not rubbing your nose in the author's cleverness.

More proof that your first Deaver, before you'velearned the formula, is likely to be your favorite.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781501110016
Publisher:
Gallery Books
Publication date:
12/06/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
544
Sales rank:
431,352
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

SILENCE.

The woods around Lake Mondac were as quiet as couldbe, a world of difference from the churning, chaotic city where the couple spent their weekdays.

Silence, broken only by an occasional a-hoo-ah of a distant bird, the hollow siren of a frog.

And now: another sound.

A shuffle of leaves, two impatient snaps of branch or twig.

Footsteps?

No, that couldn't be. The other vacation houses beside the lake weredeserted on this cool Friday afternoon in April.

Emma Feldman, in her early thirties, set down her martini on the kitchen table, where she sat across from her husband. She tucked a strand of curly black hair behind her ear and walked to one of the grimy kitchen windows. She saw nothing but dense clusters of cedar, juniper and black spruce rising up a steep hill, whose rocks resembled cracked yellow bone.

Her husband lifted an eyebrow. "What was it?"

She shrugged and returned to her chair. "I don't know. Didn't see anything."

Outside, silence again.

Emma, lean as any stark, white birch outside one of the many windows of the vacation house, shook off her blue jacket. She was wearing the matching skirt and a white blouse. Lawyer clothes. Hair in a bun. Lawyer hair. Stockings but shoeless.

Steven, turning his attention to the bar, had abandoned his jacket as well, and a wrinkled striped tie. The thirty-six-year-old, with a full head of unruly hair, was in a blue shirt and his belly protruded inexorably over the belt of his navy slacks. Emma didn'tcare; she thought he was cute and always would.

"And look what I got," he said, nodding towardthe upstairs guest room and unbagging a large bottle of pulpy organic vegetable juice. Their friend,visiting from Chicago this weekend, had been flirting with liquid diets lately, drinking the most disgusting things.

Emma read the ingredients and wrinkled her nose. "It's all hers. I'll stick with vodka."

"Why I love you."

The house creaked, as it often did. The place was seventy-six years old. It featured an abundance of wood and a scarcity of steel and stone. The kitchen, where they stood, was angular and paneled in glowing yellow pine. The floor was lumpy. The colonial structure was one of three houses on this private road, each squatting on ten acres. It couldbe called lakefront property but only because the lake lapped at a rocky shore two hundred yards from the front door.

The house was plopped down in a small clearing on the east side of a substantial elevation. Midwest reserve kept peoplefrom labeling these hills "mountains" here in Wisconsin, though it rose easily seven or eight hundred feet into the air. At the moment the big house was bathed in blue late-afternoon shadows.

Emma gazed out at rippling Lake Mondac, far enough from the hill to catch some descending sun. Now, in early spring, the surrounding area was scruffy, reminding of wet hackles rising from a guard dog's back. The house was much nicer than they couldotherwise afford — they'd bought it through foreclosure — and she knew from the moment she'd seen it that this was the perfect vacation house.

Silence...

The colonial also had a pretty colorful history.

The owner of a big meatpacking company in Chicago had built the place before World War II. It was discovered years later that much of his fortune had come from selling black-market meat, circumventing the rationing system that limited foods here at home to make sure the troops were nourished. In 1956 the man's body was found floating in the lake; he was possibly the victim of veterans who had learned of his scheme and killed him, then searched the house, looking for the illicit cash he'd hidden here.

No ghosts figured in any version of the death, though Emma and Steven couldn't keep from embellishing. When guests were staying here they'd gleefully take note of who kept the bathroom lights on and who braved the dark after hearing the tales.

Two more snaps outside. Then a third.

Emma frowned. "You hear that? Again, that sound. Outside."

Steven glanced out the window. The breeze kicked up now and then. He turned back.

Her eyes strayed to her briefcase.

"Caught that," he said, chiding.

"What?"

"Don't even think about opening it."

She laughed, though without much humor.

"Work-free weekend," he said. "We agreed."

"And what's in there?" she asked, nodding at the backpack he carried in lieu of an attaché case. Emma was wrestling the lid off a jar of cocktail olives.

"Only two things of relevance, Your Honor: my le Carré novel and that bottle of Merlot I had at work. Shall I introduce the latter into evid..." Voice fading. He looked to the window, through which they could see a tangle of weeds and trees and branches and rocks the color of dinosaur bones.

Emma too glanced outside.

"That I heard," he said. He refreshed his wife's martini. She dropped olives into both drinks.

"What was it?"

"Remember that bear?"

"He didn'tcome up to the house." They clinked glasses and sipped clear liquor.

Steven said, "You seem preoccupied. What's up, the union case?"

Research for a corporate acquisition had revealed some possible shenanigans within the lakefront workers union in Milwaukee. The government had become involved and the acquisition was temporarily tabled, which nobody was very happy about.

But she said, "This's something else. One of our clients makes car parts."

"Right. Kenosha Auto. See? I do listen."

She looked at her husband with an astonished glance. "Well, the CEO, turns out, is an absolute prick." She explained about a wrongful death case involving components of a hybrid car engine: a freak accident, a passenger electrocuted. "The head of their R-and-D department...why, he demanded I return all the technical files. Imagine that."

Steven said, "I liked your other case better — that state representative's last will and testament...the sex stuff."

"Shhhh," she said, alarmed. "Remember, I never said a word about it."

"My lips are sealed."

Emma speared an olive and ate it. "And how was your day?"

Steven laughed. "Please...I don't make enough to talk about business after hours." The Feldmans were a shining example of a blind date gone right, despite the odds. Emma, a U of W law school valedictorian, daughter of Milwaukee-Chicago money; Steven, a city college bachelor of arts grad from the Brewline, intent on helping society. Their friends gave them six months, tops; the Door County wedding, to which all those friends were invited, had occurred exactly eight months after their first date.

Steven pulled a triangle of Brie out of a shopping bag. Found crackers and opened them.

"Oh, okay. Just a little."

Snap, snap...

Her husband frowned. Emma said, "Honey, it's freaking me a little. That was footsteps."

The three vacation houses here were eight or nine miles from the nearest shop or gas station and a little over a mile from the county highway, which was accessed via a strip of dirt poorly impersonating a road. Marquette State Park, the biggest in the Wisconsin system, swallowed most of the land in the area; Lake Mondac and these houses made up an enclave of private property.

Very private.

And very deserted.

Steven walked into the utility room, pulled aside the limp beige curtain and gazed past a cut-back crepe myrtle into the side yard. "Nothing. I'm thinking we — "

Emma screamed.

"Honey, honey, honey!" her husband cried.

A face studied them through the back window. The man's head was covered with a stocking, though you could see crew-cut, blondish hair, a colorful tattoo on his neck. The eyes were halfway surprised to see peopleso close. He wore an olive drab combat jacket. He knocked on the glass with one hand. In the other he was holding a shotgun, muzzle up. He was smiling eerily.

"Oh, God," Emma whispered.

Steven pulled out his cell phone, flipped it open and punched numbers, telling her, "I'll deal with him. Go lock the front door."

Emma ran to the entryway, dropping her glass. The olives spun amid the dancing shards, picking up dust. Crying out, she heard the kitchen door splinter inward. She looked back and saw the intruder with the shotgun rip the phone from her husband's hand and shove him against the wall. A print of an old sepia landscape photograph crashed to the floor.

The front door too swung open. A second man, his head also covered with mesh, pushed inside. He had long dark hair, pressed close by the nylon. Taller and stockier than the first, he held a pistol. The black gun was small in his outsized hand. He pushed Emma into the kitchen, where the other man tossed him the cell phone. The bigger one stiffened at the pitch, but caught the phone one-handed. He seemed to grimace in irritation at the toss and dropped the phone in his pocket.

Steven said, "Please...What do you...?" Voice quavering.

Emma looked away quickly. The less she saw, she was thinking, the better their chances to survive.

"Please," Steven said, "Please. You can take whatever you want. Just leave us. Please."

Emma stared at the dark pistol in the taller man's hand. He wore a black leather jacket and boots. His were like the other man's, the kind soldiers wear.

Both men grew oblivious to the couple. They looked around the house.

Emma's husband continued, "Look, you can have whatever you want. We've got a Mercedes outside. I'll get the keys. You — "

"Just, don't talk," the taller man said, gesturing with the pistol.

"We have money. And credit cards. Debit card too. I'll give you the PIN."

"What do you want?" Emma asked, crying.

"Shhh."

Somewhere, in its ancient heart, the house creaked once more.

Copyright © 2008 by Jeffery Deaver

Meet the Author

Jeffery Deaver is the international, #1 bestselling author of more than twenty-seven suspense novels, including The Bone Collector, which was made into a film starring Denzel Washington. He lives in North Carolina.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Washington, D.C.
Date of Birth:
May 6, 1950
Place of Birth:
Chicago, Illinois
Education:
B.A., University of Missouri; Juris Doctor, cum laude, Fordham University School of Law
Website:
http://www.jefferydeaver.com/

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The Bodies Left Behind 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 86 reviews.
waccco More than 1 year ago
This book read like a very bad made for tv movie. Every move was predictable. Very slow and just plain boring in parts. I hope Mr deaver finds his way back to past success.
sunnysis More than 1 year ago
I typically enjoy a Jeff Deaver story - but I was not excited about this one. My husband and I listened to the unabriged audio version on a long trip and it was often dull. Several times it seemed unlikey the choices the characters made. For instance, it's hard to believe a trained police officer would not follow protocol when making an arrest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
April seventeenth is a day that will affect many lives in Kennnesha County, Wisconsin. It begins with Emma and Steven Feldman enjoying a drink in their mini-mansion vacation home on Lake Mondac. They hear noises outside followed by two gunmen barging into their home. Before they shoot Steven, he connects to the Sheriff¿s Office for a brief moment. --- Sheriff Tom Dahl traces the 911 call and sends Deputy Brynn McKenzie to check it out. She finds the Feldman couple dead on their floor and the two killers Terry Hart and Compton Lewis eerily sitting casually nearby. She gets away running into the nearby woods where she meets Michelle, a friend of the Feldmans, who was visiting them. The two hit men chase after the women because they must have no witnesses to the murders. Brynn leads Michelle into a nearby state park while Hart and Lewis follow them. As they flee the thugs, they soon run into meth manufacturers in a place they thought they can call for help. Even if they somehow survive, Brynn¿s nightmare will not be over as the worst is yet to come. --- This is a superb cat and mouse thriller made even more exciting once the reader concludes that Hart and McKenzie are similar personalities in spite of being on opposite sides of the law. With actions scenes that will translate easily into a movie thriller starring females who prefer to live but will do what it takes to Die Hard if at all as they refuse to break. Fans will enjoy this exciting outdoor wintry thriller with two born killers chasing two strong women. --- Harriet Klausner
ridgebacklvr More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was suspenseful and never let my attention deviate when I was reading it. Usually fall asleep by 10 and had 3 12oclock nights in a row because I just could not put it down. Would recommend it to anyone who enjoys murder/mystery novels. Loved that the officer it is about was a woman.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended. Full of twists and turns that are Deaver's style. The characters you thought you knew are not who they seem to be. Couldn't put it down.
ks9833 More than 1 year ago
I have read several Jeffery Deaver Books and find him am excellent story teller. The novel moves along at a good pace as do all his books. His charactyers build steadily if predictably in this case. The novel was a "page turner" for me but the fact that it takes place in all one day forces a great deal of action into a compressed time frame which can be a little frustarting since it seems difficult to accept that so much bad can happen to one person in so short a time. Very much like the Die Hard Movies after a while it becomes hard to swallow but worth a read as an escapist novel.
sanman More than 1 year ago
After reading The Bone Collector and other Deaver novels, this book was a real let down.
chilaport More than 1 year ago
Story line was good and interesting. My only complaint was is a little too verbose. Story tended to drag at times. I purchased as an audio book (I use for long drives).
amrahne More than 1 year ago
I used to love Jeffrey Deaver's books, but they keep getting more and more ridiculous. This one started off pretty well, but then became painful to read in parts with the double-, no, triple-, no wait! quadruple-crosses. I was appalled that his editor would let him get away with such sloppy writing. There were way too many "I know that he knows that I know that he knows what I am going to do, so I will do this!" plus the numerous times the victims are "cornered with no escape, surely this must be the end of the road", ad nauseam. I was very disappointed with the book. I hesitate to purchase another of his books.
Hannah33 More than 1 year ago
It's very rare for me to find a "suspense" novel whose ending I can't predict. This one had me delightfully guessing until the very end, and threw me curveball after curveball. The action is very fast-paced, and just sucks you right in. The characters, though, are a little one-dimensional and hard to relate to. You know which ones are "the good guys" (or at least you think you do. . .) and root for them accordingly, but only because you want to see the bad guys defeated, not for any particular attachment to a character. If you're looking to get lost in a good book for a while, and being taken on a roller coaster ride to boot, this one fits the bill. I can't wait to read more.
AliOK More than 1 year ago
The plot is intriguing. The characters are flawed which adds realism. The story had some twists and turns that made it a good read. After the climax, the story lost momentum. The wrap up was drawn out and needed some spicing up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After over 200 pages of the bad guys following the good girls through the woods, I give up. Will not continue.
1tonchev More than 1 year ago
i usually love deavers books but both of the books for 2008 were disappointments. the bodies left behind was nice in the beginning because it was a stand alone book, all new characters, sometimes lincoln rhyme can get tiring, kathryn dance is still new. i have to say that the story i though was better then the broken window, which i thought was rushed and not throughly worked out. this book the story was interesting up until about 90 pages left when it seems like deaver got tired of writing and just quickly wrapped up the book, more like a inexperienced author would. please mr deaver if you ever see this dont put out 2 books a year again, i would gladly have one great book every year or so rather than 2 ok books every year. still worth a read though, just dont get your hopes up.
tommygrrl723 More than 1 year ago
...when I reached the end of this book, I was really disappointed. It started off slow, picked up in the middle and then completely dropped at the end. I wouldn't recommend this one, but don't let this turn you off to all of the Jeffery Deaver books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a fan of Jeffrey Deaver's work, especially his Lincoln Rhyme novels, but this book just wasn't my cup of tea. It seemed to drag along and I found myself just wanting it to end.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First book I've read in a while that i couldnt put down.
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DNA45 More than 1 year ago
Deaver’s Deputy Sheriff has drive-to-excel, and an analytical mind. However, she is a day late in asking the question “What of the ‘other gun’ that shot the tires’”? The end question of Hart leaves several options and the reader is forced to either choose one or just smile…or frown because it was not written as to whom last saw him.
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