Monday, June 3, 2019

The Bone Collector

The Bone Collector
by Jeffery Deaver
Recommended Ages: 14+

Lincoln Rhyme’s career heading the NYPD’s forensic science unit ended three years ago when an accident at a crime scene rendered him paralyzed from the shoulders down, except for his left ring finger. He’s pretty much decided to kill himself, if he can find a doctor to help him do it, when a series of kidnappings and murders perks him up. Being needed by the New York Police Department can do that, I guess.

Amelia Sachs is a 30-something uniform cop who discovers a dead body on her last day of patrol duty before transferring to the department’s public affairs office. Supermodel gorgeous, afflicted with arthritis and a few self-destructive habits like fingernail chewing, and still emotionally hollow after losing her undercover vice cop lover in a worse way than being killed in the line of duty, Sachs resents being pulled into Rhymes’ investigation. But he needs someone to be his eyes, ears, hands and feet at the crime scenes – someone unburdened by the preconceptions of an experienced criminalist.

Besides putting a fresh twist on the “race to catch a serial killer” storyline, this book really shines in the scenes set in the ad hoc evidence lab set up in Rhymes’ bedroom, where he watches what the tech is doing on a computer screen and yells out orders, observations and deductions. It’s a high-pressure, fast-paced case that can only be solved by the rapid interpretation of clues left, mostly on purpose, by a monstrous nutcase with a fixation on the history of crime in New York City. And even though anyone familiar with the genre will mentally add the word “of course” when I say that the battle of wits builds to a climax in which Rhyme faces terrifying personal danger, exactly where that danger comes from is guaranteed to surprise.

Amped up with a range of vividly described horrors, tinged with character conflict between a crime solving duo here matched for the first of many mysteries, torqued by psychological perversion, and sporting at least one spectacular red herring, it’s an unputdownable first outing for a serial sleuth who, all by himself, is sufficiently brilliant and original to make readers want more. So, you’ll be happy to know, this is the first of 14 Lincoln Rhyme mysteries and the basis of a 1999 movie starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. I have previously read the only 12th, The Steel Kiss. The latest installment is titled The Cutting Edge.

Deaver also co-wrote with John Sandford the cleverly titled crossover novella Rhymes with Prey, as well as three Rune thrillers, three John Pelham novels (under the pseudonym William Jefferies), four Katherine Dance novels, several short story collections and novellas, and the standalone novels Voodoo, Always a Thief, Mistress of Justice, The Lesson of Her Death, Praying for Sleep, A Maiden's Grave, Speaking in Tongues, The Devil's Teardrop, The Blue Nowhere, Garden of Beasts, The Bodies Left Behind, Edge, The October List and The Never Game.

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