I am not tech savvy. I do not tweet and to many of my friends eternal frustration I am not on Facebook. Apparently it would make their social lives easier if I were.
And I have to say, after reading Roadside Crosses by Jeffery Deaver, I am not all that sure if I want the internet and all that it encompasses to be that big a part of my life.
The story starts with the discovery of a â€˜roadside cross\’ by a highway patrol trooper. You know the type â€“ you see them after fatal car accidents by the side of the road. The problem with this particular roadside cross is that it is dated for the following day â€“ the day the police find a kidnapped teenage girl in the trunk of a car, left for dead.
Special Agent Kathryn Dance is a kinesics expert with the California Bureau of Investigation. Basically, that means she is an expert in body language and uses this expertise to her advantage when interviewing and locating criminals. As this case progresses though, she begins to wonder whether there will be any use for this talent at all. The teenage victim leads Dance towards an online community â€“ including a blog called the Chilton Report â€“ that has accused another teenager of the crime. The blog spirals out of control as accusations and criticisms â€“ some of it very personal â€“ are posted online for the whole world to see.
Has the teenage victim of this cyber-bullying snapped? Is he seeking revenge for those who have posted comments about him and his family online or is there far greater evil at play here?
The book follows the development of the case and the race to find the attacker as the number of attacks escalates, and Kathryn Dance needs more than her kinesic skills to help her win this one. Because the attacker is targeting his victims via the blog.
This novel is an interesting take on the blurring between the â€˜synth\’ (or online) world and the real world. Many of the characters spend hours each and every day in online worlds â€“ developing characters, buying real estate, and bartering for possessions. They have virtually no contact with the world outside their computer screen. And it also questions the use of blogs â€“ some of the comments posted are hurtful and leading directly to vicious attacks but the man behind the blog won\’t stop it or pull any of the threads related to the attacks. Freedom of speech and all that!
For me this was a fascinating look at the online world â€“ how quickly a few hurtful comments can spiral out of control, or how scary it is that there are people out there who really don\’t live in a world outside their computers. And another thing that really stuck in my head â€“ remember that whatever you write, or post, to a thread on a blog â€“ it doesn\’t go away! So don\’t do it lightly!
Overall the book was a good, punchy thriller with a fast paced storyline and a really interesting and appropriate theme. It also had a surprise ending. But I have to admit, I might just wait a little longer before I add my profile to Facebook.
Available now: Hachette RRP$22.99