Crime writer Jeffrey Deaver on how he fell victim to a real-life stalker

Over the years, Jeffery Deaver has written about crazed psychos, highly intelligent serial killers and stalkers in his bestselling crime novels.But the genial 65-year-old American author '“ who introduced quadriplegic forensic detective Lincoln Rhyme and his sidekick Amelia Sachs in The Bone Collector, which was made into a film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie '“ never imagined the tables would be turned on him.

Crime writer Jeffery Deaver.  PA Photo/Hodder and Stoughton..
Crime writer Jeffery Deaver. PA Photo/Hodder and Stoughton..

For the last two years he has been the victim of a stalker. It began with an email from a would-be writer, asking Deaver to look at some of his work and reply with his comments.

“My policy is that I don’t do that, because of potential plagiarism claims,” the author explains. “I gave him some general advice. Curiously, he snuck a few little snippets of his writing into his emails, which I looked at. He was a decent writer, but I never looked at any of the manuscripts or partial manuscripts. He took offence at that. He said he liked the advice, but clearly I wasn’t on his side – and it got stranger from there. I would get 70 emails a day, sometimes 50 within the space of an hour, just rambling. Many of them made no sense.

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“There were some ambiguous threats, which I don’t want to go into. I called the police, and told them they needed to know about this fellow.”

He had previously researched stalking for XO, his novel about a country singer who is targeted by an obsessive fan. “It’s very difficult to stop these people,” he reflects. “The best thing to do, a police officer told me, is simply ignore them. So for the last year, I have not had any communication with this fellow.”

His latest page-turner, The Steel Kiss, sees Lincoln and Amelia on the case of a killer who causes death and destruction by hacking into a ‘smart controller’ which can work home products remotely, in acts of ‘domestic terrorism’.

Today, you can turn your oven on from a remote location, turn up the heating, tell your door to unlock for an hour when the plumber’s expected and start your car remotely, Deaver explains. Imagine that facility getting into the wrong hands.

“I’m very reluctant to have too many of these electronic things in my home because I wouldn’t trust a product which could cause some harm. In both my houses, I have a video monitoring system that I can log into anywhere in the world. I don’t have a problem with that.

“I would not put in a system that turned the oven on, or turned down the heating system, because something might happen. There are a lot of hackers out there who have nothing better to do than cause mischief.”

Away from the world of crime-writing, Deaver, a former journalist, folk singer and lawyer, breeds Briards. He and his ex-girlfriend have a dog business together and take the dogs to compete in national shows.

He’s currently working on a TV comedy show, which has not yet been sold, a series of short stories and is already researching his next novel, a thriller set in Italy.

The Steel Kiss by Jeffery Deaver is published by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £18.99.