Jeffrey Deaver and “The Goodbye Man”

Jeffery Deaver The Goodbye Man

By Ilexus Williams

The LEAP Ambassadors were excited to join Murder By The Book’s Facebook live with Jeffery Deaver. Jeffery Deaver is a mystery and crime writer who is recognized as the “master of suspense” author of the “Lincoln Rhyme” novels and other works.  However, Deaver is also credited as a former journalist, folksinger, and attorney. After gaining a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a Juris Doctorate degree from Fordham University, Jeffery Deaver initially worked as a journalist and then pursued a career as an attorney. After practicing law, Deaver launched into his writing career. Deaver’s work includes more than thirty-five novels, three collections of short stories, the lyrics for a country-western album, and a nonfiction law book. His novels have been listed on bestseller lists such as New York Times, Italy’s Corriere della Sera, and the Times of London. Also, Deaver has received many awards such as the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Raymond Chandler Lifetime Achievement Award, and nominations for Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America.

Jeffrey Deaver

To begin our evening, Murder By The Book allowed Jeffery Deaver to give the audience a short reading of his newest novel The Goodbye Man. Murder By The Book typically discourages authors from reading their work, however, Deaver is particularly skilled at this, prompting MBTB to ask him to do so. In the reading of The Goodbye Man, the main character of the book, Colter Shaw, was being pursued and needed to determine a course of action.

“Seconds to decide. Swerve left? Swerve right? A steep drop into brush? Or a narrow shoulder that ends in a cliff wall? Left. It was instinct.” With this decision, Colter Shaw tumbled down the hillside and became trapped in his car. While trying to free himself he noticed his attacker “scrambling down the hillside and pressing through the dense growth toward Shaw.” With his attacker drawing closer with a weapon in hand, Shaw continued to struggle.
He continued to squeeze.
Almost out.
Come on, Come on…
Just as he was about to break free, his wallet, in the left rear pocket of his black jeans, caught. The attacker stopped, leaning through the brush, and lifted the pistol. Shaw heard it cock. A revolver…The bullet went wide, kicking up dust near Shaw. Another click. The man fired again. This bullet hit its mark.”

As a suspense writer, Deaver felt that it was only right to leave viewers with a cliffhanger. Moving into the interview, the moderator, Mckenna Jordan, opened the discussion by asking Deaver to give an elevator pitch for his new book.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Jeffrey Deaver, Murder by the Book, The Goodbye Man

Deaver revealed that The Goodbye Man is a sequel to the first Colter Shaw book: The Never Game. The Goodbye Man has loose parallels to David Koresh and The Branch Davidians and Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. The main character Colter Shaw has traveled to the wilderness of Washington State to investigate a mysterious organization that could potentially be a cult.

Additionally, Deaver speaks to his approach to writing his Colter Shaw books. The Colter Shaw books are influenced by passive forms of entertainment such as television and movies. Deaver considers these forms of entertainment passive because the director or choreographer give the viewers everything and leave nothing to the imagination. In juxtaposition, with books readers are partnered with the author. Because of the active role readers play, they bring their own sensibility when interpreting a book or short story. In contrast to passive forms of entertainment, reading is a more emotionally engaging experience. In saying this, Deaver believes that it is important for authors to recognize passive forms of entertainment. In order to appeal to audiences in this particular market, Deaver intentionally writes shorter novels, shorter chapters, and he uses simple language to give his books a cinematic quality that holds the reader’s attention.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Jeffrey Deaver, Murder by the Book, The Goodbye Man

Furthermore, many people find cults extremely fascinating, so the moderator questioned why Deaver chose this subject to be the center of his novel. He revealed that this topic was influenced by a personal experience that, at the time, seemed catastrophic. However,  now he finds humor in the situation. While living in Manhattan, Deaver met a woman he found very beautiful, intelligent, and funny. While in conversation the woman asked Deaver what he was doing on Friday night. Deaver responded, “Whatever you are doing on Friday night.” Deaver expected to have dinner with his new acquaintance. However, his night did not go as planned. The woman led him to an event in a hotel in Midtown Manhattan, which turned out to be a recruitment meeting for a cult. Deaver sat through a lecture, and he vividly recalls the control the leader had over the cult members. The leader “stirred them into a frenzy that was actually terrifying…They were jostling, applauding, clapping and shouting and chanting. They had no mind of their own. They were a creature, an animal with 500 legs and feet.” It is from this terrifying experience Deaver draws his inspiration for The Goodbye Man. His inspiration does not cease with this book: Deaver is currently crafting the sequel to The Goodbye Man.

Murder By The Book’s evening with Jeffery Deaver was truly captivating, and we look forward to more events!


Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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