Mystery / Suspense
The Victims' Club
Written by: Jeffery Deaver
Published By: Amazon Original Stories
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I love reading books by Jeffery Deaver and my shelves are filled with them, but I also love his short stories. So, when I was offered an opportunity to review his latest short story, The Victims’ Club, in ebook format, I jumped at the chance.
In this short story, we are introduced to Jon Avery, a senior detective for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. After another detective goes out on emergency leave, Avery inherits her cases, including an incredibly troubling one – that of a teacher whose drugged and partially dressed form is photographed and uploaded for all to see. Despite having the picture taken down on the original site it was posted on, the photo has gotten around and Preston University Professor Rose Taylor is left feeling violated and humiliated. She has no idea what happened other than the fact that her drink at a recent party must have been drugged as she woke up outside the venue partially dressed with no memory of what happened prior to exiting the venue.
A search for witnesses prior to Avery receiving the case yielded next to nothing, but on Avery’s first day on the case, something does come back on the burner phone used to take and upload the photo. Avery interviews Amir Karesh, a student of Preston who was at the party and recently purchased the burner phone for cash after purchasing other items on a credit card in the same store. He claims to have lost the phone on the date in question. Though Avery suspects Karesh to be guilty of something, he can’t deny that the alibi he provides checks out – he left the party long before the photo had been uploaded. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t have been present at the location the photo was uploaded if he was in cahoots with the person who took the picture.
As Avery delves more and more into the case with a deputy that used to work at the college, he becomes convinced that student athletes are involved and that the case is being obstructed by the university’s athletic department. He is especially suspicious when the one witness willing to tell them anything suddenly goes silent, claiming to be uncertain about what he told them originally. As it turns out, this gentleman caters parties on the side for...yup, you guessed it…Preston University.
Avery is incredibly frustrated about this turn of events and the one case that he couldn’t close and recommend charges for. But then he takes a closer look at the list of cases he has recommended charges for and realizes that maybe someone else has figured out who committed this sad crime against the likeable and fairly innocent Rose Taylor. Perhaps this individual has found a way to get around the suppression of witnesses and exact revenge for the crime after all.
There are a lot of times when Mr. Deaver has surprised me, but this time around, I had a feeling from the get go regarding the individuals involved in the incident. I wasn’t truly sure until a couple of clues were hinted at. For one thing, Avery was surprised at the level of crimes of late. In a town where a little petty crime and some drunk and disorderly can be expected, the kind of things that have been happening lately – assaults, etc. – is strange. The other thing – who had been implicated in the crimes. They all had similar backgrounds.
So, I wasn’t really surprised by the end, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the journey. Detective Jon Avery is a likeable character who I would love to see fleshed out a bit more and the story is in line with the times and the types of revenge-based internet crime that has been taking place lately. Fans of Jeffery Deaver are going to enjoy The Victims’ Club just as much as I did.