The Goodbye Man (Colter Shaw 2) by Jeffery Deaver

Make Immortality Great Again!

😀 😀 😀 😀

The Goodbye ManBounty hunter Colter Shaw is on the trail of two young men, boys really, who have been accused of defacing a church with neo-Nazi slogans and then shooting the church janitor who had run out to confront them. But as Colter learns more, he feels it doesn’t add up. Though troubled, neither of the boys have a history of involvement with neo-Nazi groups, nor have shown themselves to be trigger-happy. When his search ends in tragedy, Colter decides he wants to know more about what might have been behind their actions, and his investigation soon leads him to a kind of retreat, called the Foundation, where the boys had been headed during the chase. The more Colter looks into things, the more mysterious and sinister the Foundation appears. So Colter decides to book himself onto a retreat there, undercover…

This is the second book in a trilogy about Colter Shaw, a man brought up by his survivalist father to have all the skills needed to be both hunter and expert in self-defence. He uses this unique background to find missing people for offered rewards, travelling the country in his Winnebago. Sometimes the people he is searching for are accused of crimes, as is the case here, and sometimes they have simply chosen to disappear for more personal reasons. His success rate means he has plenty of money, so that he can choose which cases to take on and sometimes follow something up if it interests him, even without the prospect of financial reward.

As well as each book having an individual plot, there’s an overarching mystery in the background regarding the death, probably murder, of Colter’s father and the disappearance of his brother, also trained in survivalist techniques. That story doesn’t move much in this middle book, but the ending suggests it will probably be the main story in the third and last book of the series.

The main story here is about the Foundation, which Colter soon learns is a personality cult around the charismatic figure of Master Eli, who promises that he has discovered the true way to happiness and immortality. He attracts those who are suffering from grief or depression, and preys on their vulnerability. But is he merely a charlatan, a snake-oil salesman, out for money? Or is there something darker going on? How far will Master Eli and his inner circle go to protect their lucrative business?

Jeffery Deaver
Jeffery Deaver

Jeffery Deaver has an easy style that makes his books very readable even when the subject matter might be a little clichéd, as it is here. He brings nothing new to the idea of the cult, and it all seems a bit too convenient that people should be gullible enough to fall for Master Eli’s nonsense quite as quickly and completely as they seem to. Because, honestly, the basis of his “message” is pretty laughable – the merest soupçon of cynicism should have been enough to protect the new recruits. I found it quite amusing, though, that Deaver occasionally makes Eli sound rather like a better-looking and more eloquent version of a certain orange cult leader with whom we have all become far too familiar over the last few years, which certainly had the effect of reminding me that gullibility is pretty widespread. (I restrained myself from saying “in America” – do I get bonus points for tact? 😉 ) What is also widespread in America is the Great God Gun, worshipped with far greater fervour than the Bible which usually accompanies it, and of course there are Glocks and Colts and hunting rifles aplenty in the book. But Colter also uses his specialist knowledge to create some more innovative weapons, equally capable of killing or maiming, proving that guns really aren’t essential fashion accessories for the true survivalist.

I felt a little too much time was spent on building up the picture of the cult but most of the book is given over to action, which Deaver does very well. Colter is a likeable protagonist although he’s almost too good to be true, always able to come up with some arcane piece of knowledge in a crisis, like which herbs have certain properties, how to deal with various kinds of wildlife threats, how to bypass security systems, and so on. But although Deaver stretches credibility to its limits, he never quite breaks it completely. I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the first book, The Never Game, purely because I couldn’t fully buy in to the attraction of Master Eli and his cult, but I still found it a fast-paced page-turner and I’m looking forward to getting to the resolution of the background mystery in the final novel (which I already have and will be reading very soon as another of my 20 Books of Summer).

20 books 2019Book 7 of 20

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, HarperCollins via NetGalley.

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37 thoughts on “The Goodbye Man (Colter Shaw 2) by Jeffery Deaver

  1. Ha! You do get points for tact, FictionFan! And I couldn’t agree more about the widespread love of guns in the US. It’s woven into the culture. For me personally, I think it’s had far too many tragic consequences. But I know there are a lot of Americans who don’t agree with me at all. That aside, you make some interesting points about cults. In real life, I think cults are more complex, and people’s reasons for joining them more complicated, then you generally see in books (‘though there are a few exceptions). Still, the story sounds good, and I know what you mean about Deaver’s writing style; he does tell a story in an appealing way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I honestly don’t understand the love of guns over there – here we had one school shooting and banned guns more or less completely with almost unanimous public support. It’s the biggest of all our cultural differences, I think. Yes, it’s hard in thrillers like this especially to go into enough detail about why cults work without bogging down the action, so I think he made the right decision to keep it at a fairly superficial level even if it left me unconvinced that this particular cult would have attracted so many followers. And he is very good at the action side of things – he uses a kind of traditional style which works very well, for me at least.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes I think the character of a charismatic manipulator is better suited to screen stories than in a book, because the right actor can make it more plausible that people fall for it. When I’ve read novels with those types of characters I just end up thinking ‘Really?!!’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that’s a good point. I also felt in this one an awful lot of the cult members seemed unlikely cultists – middle-aged and older people who’d never been attracted to cults before. Somehow I can accept young people being sucked into cults more easily (until I look at Trump’s followers and realise most of them are older too…) All very weird!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Probably not something I’d gravitate to, but I do commend you on your tact, FF. I find it terribly interesting to hear how the rest of the world views Americans and our guns. What must seem “normal” to many people here probably looks like a bad Western TV show to our neighbors!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha, I feel I may have to practice harder at tact! 😉 Yes. it’s such a cultural difference I really struggle to understand why Americans seem so wedded to their guns. I get it in rural areas, for protection from bears and stuff, and also for hunting. But it’s really the number of city dwellers who seem to own semi-automatic machine guns – why??? Especially since the consequences are so awful. Makes me realise just how different America and Britain are, despite our common language.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. While this doesn’t sound like it’s for me, Deaver seems like an author my brother would really like, and I always struggle to find presents for him – so thank you for giving me a rich source of future birthday and Christmas gifts!

    (And yes to the guns being our biggest cultural difference. I’ve lost touch with her now but for years I had an American friend with whom I agreed about many things but used to find completely mystifying on this subject – she used to cite the fact that her boyfriend carried a gun as one of the things she found attractive about him! In my mind, sufficient grounds *not* to go out with someone…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always a bit wary of dividing authors in this way, but I do think Deaver is probably more a “men’s” writer, so I think he’d be a great choice for your brother if he likes action thrillers.

      It’s totally weird to me how so many Americans glamorise gun ownership, especially when every day there’s another tragedy. I can see why people in rural areas might want a hunting rifle, but who actually needs a semi-automatic machine gun?? Haha, yes, if a guy told me he carried a gun he wouldn’t see me for dust…


  5. Mmmm… I’m not sure this one really appeals to me much. I might prefer it in film form, though I don’t seem to watch many of those anymore.

    I live in a rural part of the US where a gun is often used as a tool or as a means of putting food in the freezer. It’s one of those topics (much like religion or politics) that I really hate to discuss since many folks aren’t open to opinions other than their own. It can get especially tricky when it’s not face to face, too. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always enjoy the occasional action thriller, and Deaver sticks pretty much to the traditional style which works for me!

      Yes, it does seem to be a very contentious subject over there, which also seems odd to me since honestly I don’t ever remember speaking to a Brit who felt we should extend gun ownership. I totally understand why people in rural areas would want a gun, either for protection from dangerous wild animals (which we don’t really have over here) or for hunting. Our farmers and hunters can get gun licenses, but they are subject to stringent checks and rules. But what utterly baffles me is why people run around cities carrying guns, not to mention why anyone would want to have several semi-automatic machine guns! Or indeed, ANY semi-automatic machine guns! Those I would ban in a second… probably just as well I’m not qualified to be POTUS… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • He’s great at this kind of action thriller, which on the whole I prefer to the more psychological thriller which is maybe more fashionable at the moment. Ha, yes, it’s baffling to us in the rest of the world why America is so awash with guns despite the daily tragedies – a real cultural difference!


  6. I enjoyed your review, but I’m not really tempted into reading this series when weighed against oh so many others… An yes, absolutely with you on the guns issue from an NZ perspective too. It seems like a Pandora’s box issue, that once opened on a sense of “rightful” individual ownership, it can never be closed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Deaver is one of the few writers still writing this traditional style of action thriller, which on the whole I probably prefer to the more psychological style of thriller which is more common now.

      Yep, the right to gun ownership is such a big issue in America, and yet over here, after the Dunblane massacre (our one school shooting), I don’t even remember there being much debate – it seemed as if there was just a wholesale unanimous agreement that it must never happen again. I can’t understand a society where children are taught at school what to do when being attacked by a gunman. But what bothers me as a reader is that the gun infests their fiction too – their crime novels almost always end with a shoot-out, and I find it so tedious.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always a bit wary about mentioning the American obsession with guns since it’s such a controversial subject over there, but it’s hard not to with their action thrillers, since they’re always full of guns, lovingly described! It makes American thrillers so different to everyone else’s, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      • All the things we were told never to talk about outside of the family home pop up in novels, though, so as a reviewer, what do you do? Avoid the book, read the book but don’t review it, comment on the topical issue then move on quickly or make a feature of the issue and invite discussion are the only choices I can think of, not that any of these approaches will suit every issue. Still, the different perspectives people have and their comments have been very interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I forgot to mention, I haven’t read many American thrillers but you might be right. The Lincoln Lawyer was very exciting and fast-paced and knowing that everyone had a gun made the story all the more tense!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Aaannd this is why I don’t read modern American crime novels – too many guns and glorification of same. You’d never know that a majority of Americans would like to see stricter gun control laws put into place nationwide, not just state by state.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know. It took me a long while to work out why I prefer British crime and thrillers on the whole, but I eventually realised it was the American obsession with the gun that puts me off – so many of their books end in a shoot-out, and I’m afraid that does nothing for me. I’d much rather have a Poirot-style explanation of the crime followed by an arrest! I do hope that America manages to get control of their gun problem. There are so many murders every week that you get numb to them – even school shootings barely make the news any more.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The problem here is politically complex with federal laws and state laws varying so much. For instance Washington State where I live has strong gun control laws but the state doesn’t have a way of stopping guns coming in across the state lines.


  8. I’ve never read Jeffrey Deaver, and I honestly lumped him into the commerical fiction category with Tom Clancy, etc. so I never really thought seriously about reading one of his books, but I think you have changed my mind FF, I may like him?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, I’ve never read any Tom Clancy but I think you could be right about the comparison! This series anyway is definitely more action thriller than crime, although I think some of his earlier stuff was more traditionally crime. But it’s many years since I read any of them so I’m a bit vague about them now. Unfortunately I don’t know if you’d enjoy this, but you’ve just made me add Tom Clancy to my list…!!! 🤬😉

      Liked by 1 person

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