When Deadeye was released last month, my OCD kicked in and I had to go back and re-read the first and second books. As the third in the Luce Hansen series, this could be read as a standalone, but to truly appreciate both the book and Luce, do yourself a favour and read the first two books in the series – Crossed and Forsaken Trust. Doench has created a compelling series that balances character and plot. Her writing is top notch – you become completely immersed in the settings, the action and the character.
The book begins with the senseless murder of two brothers who are out for a run before a family dinner. Stopping to offer assistance to someone they think is lost, they are summarily shot – the killer stripping their shirts as a trophy and leaving the mortally wounded younger man to die slowly. The random nature of the murder resonates and sets the stage to introduce a rather chilling killer who kills randomly, from a distance with no apparent remorse.
At the news that David Johnson, Deadeye, a convicted sniper/serial killer has escaped from prison, Luce Hansen is pulled from her Thanksgiving vacation with Bennett. Quickly the link between Deadeye and the two murdered brothers is made and Hansen coordinates the investigation and search for the escaped killer. This is more of a hunt than an investigation as Hansen tries to understand why Johnson would return to his original hunting grounds and where he may be hiding out. Hansen does follow the leads – including a separate shooting incident that may shed light on Johnson and his motivations- and is drawn deeper into the world of hunters and survivalists in the small rural community.
There’s strong elements of mystery, suspense and thriller in Deadeye with a really good dose of action in the latter half of the book. As with the other books, this is as much a character study as a thriller. I really do like Luce – she’s a damned good investigator and profiler but she’s still haunted by the lingering ghosts and insecurities from her past. As much as she recognizes them, she still struggles to acknowledge and deal with them and open herself to the people who are in her life like Bennett and Saunders.
There really isn’t a romance in this book – the relationship is established and dynamic between Hansen and Bennett plays out in the background. It provides more insight into Luce and her inner struggles. At first there’s the impression that Bennett’s seeming controlling nature – pushing Luce into “clean living” – that doesn’t bode well for them as a couple, but as we get deeper into the story and Luce’s head, it seems to be more concern than control. There’s a great passage where Luce admits that she’s capitulated to Bennett’s push for clean living “because its easier than telling Bennett the truth: a small, soft animal lived inside me who wanted exactly what it wanted. I didn’t tell Bennett that this animal sometimes couldn’t be satiated, or that in my heart of hearts I knew exactly what it was hanging around for – my eventual self-destruction” There’s a realistic maturity in their relationship and you can see the bond grow stronger as Luce continues to recognize and struggle with her own insecurities.
Deadeye is another strong book in the Luce Hansen series. I’m torn between wanting things to end with Luce finding a level of contentment and continuing the series and putting Luce through more soul-searching. Either would make me happy – as long as Doench keeps writing more books as engaging and satisfying as these first three have been.