The October List by Jeffery Deaver

The October List by Jeffery Deaver

You wait, desperately, for news of your daughter.

At last, the door opens.

But it is not the negotiators, or the FBI.

It is her kidnapper.

And he has a gun . . .

Two days ago, life was normal.

How did it end like this?

I’m not quite sure where to start with this review, do I begin at the beginning or do I jump straight to the end and work my way back, just like Jeffery Deaver? I’m still confused!

Reading a book that defies all logic, beginning with a final scene that makes absolutely no sense at all, is without doubt a huge challenge for both reader and writer. It goes against the grain and everything you learn as a reader. Everyone starts at the start, chapter one. These are the rules; there have been – up until now – no deviation from these rules – simple as that. Although an unwritten one it’s what everyone expects, save for those readers who are impatient and read the final chapter first to see what happens. The October List, for the first third of the book, makes absolutely no sense at all!

It does take some getting used to, I found myself trying to figure out the ending of a chapter so that the previous one made sense, that’s not something you’d encounter normally. That’s where the book is so confusing, a character is mentioned in a scene, sometimes pivotal, yet we have no idea how Gabriel knew him and how he came to be in that situation. Two chapters later we find out how that character is connected to the story and it begins to make sense, until another similar situation occurs in the following chapter!

There’s a lot of re reading previous chapters – for me at least – and this did hinder the flow a little but given the style of this book I can’t at this moment think of a better way of approaching it.

When you read a book with regular chronology – i.e. forwards – then you have time to grow with the characters, you learn about their background, personality and what makes them tick. You don’t have that luxury here. Having said that, that’s what makes the reveal work at the end. The format will definitely be akin to vegemite, some will love it, some will hate it.

The clever thing with The October List is that you’d think knowing the outcome that the book would be bereft of shocks and surprises. I can safely say there’s plenty here to keep you going and like a lot of books there’s a sweet spot when things unravel and start to make sense – for me it was five chapters from the end.

I really did enjoy how it all unravelled, why it was done and the engineering of the plot. If this book had been written as a regular book then the storyline wouldn’t have been overly complex and the plot would have been fairly formulaic. However because of the nature of this book the ending is brilliant and very well thought out. I can guarantee that once you’ve finished the book you’ll re read the first chapter (the true ending of the book) to see what happened.

The writing itself is typical Deaver, accomplished and tight. You don’t appreciate the style when you are reading because you are concentrating so hard but once it’s all over you can sit back and say “that was clever” or “aha, now I understand”. I’d highly recommend reading the book for a number of reasons but by far my number one reason – it’s different.

This format undoubtedly makes you work harder. As I’ve mentioned it’s not a fluid or easy read. It’s very technical and not at all what you would expect. Mr Deaver should be applauded for coming up with something fresh and new. Will it catch on? I’m not so sure. Is it entertaining? It most certainly is. Stick with it, you will be rewarded at the end.

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (26 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444780433
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444780437
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