Jeffery Deaver

Lincoln Rhyme - Wheelchair bound forensic specialist and
Amelia Sachs - Assistant and girlfriend
New York, New York


"The Broken Window"

(Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky JUN 24, 2008)

"If somebody wants to destroy your life, there's nothing you can do about it.  People believe what computers tell us.  If they say you owe money, you owe money.  If it says you're a bad insurance risk, you're a bad risk.  The report says you have no credit, then you have no credit, even if you're a multibillionaire.  We believe the data; we don't care about the truth."

The villain in Jeffrey Deaver's The Broken Window is "the man who knows everything." He has access to powerful databases that store incredibly detailed information about his victims. He uses the facts that he learns about the people he targets in a variety of ways: to track their purchases and interests, to trace their movements, to steal their identities, to frame them for crimes that he himself commits, and, in some cases, to murder them. His latest patsy is Arthur Rhyme, the estranged cousin of the renowned forensic consultant, Lincoln Rhyme. Arthur has been arrested for killing a woman he was allegedly dating. The real perpetrator, who used Arthur's name and identity to get close to Alice Sanderson, stabbed her and then stole a rare painting from her apartment. Although Arthur and Lincoln have not spoken for years, Arthur's wife turns to Lincoln in desperation, begging him to do what he can to free his cousin.

Rhyme, who lives in a Central Park West town house, has been a quadriplegic since his neck was broken years earlier in a crime scene accident. A very patient and long-suffering caregiver named Thom assists Lincoln with his everyday routines. Rhyme's high-tech voice-recognition system and computerized environmental control unit enable him to stay in close communication with his colleagues. In addition, Lincoln, who is divorced, is in a serious relationship with a beautiful detective named Amelia Sachs. Rhyme is a very busy man who has not allowed his paralysis to destroy him. He has a well-equipped forensic laboratory in his home. His sharp intellect and well-honed instincts make him a huge asset in the analysis of crime scenes. He also has a loyal cadre of people to do his legwork for him. Among them are Mel Cooper, a brilliant officer and lab work specialist, a young and eager patrolman, Ron Pulaski, and an experienced detective named Lon Sellitto. After Lincoln and Amelia take a look at the facts of the Sanderson case, they come to the conclusion that Arthur was most likely framed by someone who went to a great deal of trouble to set up a perfect crime. Eventually, Lincoln and Amelia learn that a mastermind is at work--someone who kills with impunity because of his skill at obtaining and using data. The person they are seeking has an uncanny ability to stage manage crime scenes to his advantage, leaving him free to commit further misdeeds.

The Broken Window is a chilling tale about the abuses made possible by the Information Age. The author warns us that computers are not just a boon to our supercharged economy. In the wrong hands, the facts contained in hard drives all over the world can lead to a serious invasion of privacy and even the loss of our Constitutional freedoms. Companies like the one mentioned in Deaver's book, Strategic Systems Datacorp, are data miners or information service companies. "They dig through data about customers, their purchases and houses and cars, credit histories, everything about them. They analyze and sell it." Data mining is a burgeoning industry in the twenty-first century. SSD's motto, "Knowledge is Power," says it all.

Lincoln Rhyme is an appealing protagonist; his cranky demeanor is softened only by his affection for Amelia and his passion for solving complicated mysteries. Unfortunately, Deaver hammers the same Orwellian message home repeatedly until it begins to grow tiresome. The criminal, who narrates a few chapters of his own, is a standard-issue psychopath and sadist who presents a face of normalcy to the world while he carries on his sick, secret life. Deaver inserts some realistic touches: the good guys do not always win and Rhyme and his colleagues are generally one or two steps behind the clever perp. At over four hundred pages, the novel is too long and talky; it is filled with superfluous characters and quite a few red herrings. The bloated narrative drags on until Deaver reaches his long-awaited conclusion. How much better this story would have been had it been streamlined and carefully edited, with the extraneous subplots and unnecessary padding eliminated. As it stands, The Broken Window earns a marginal recommendation for its insightful exploration of Lincoln Rhyme's past (we learn about Rhyme's once close relationship with his cousin, Arthur, which turned sour after Arthur betrayed Lincoln's trust), and its unsettling look at a brave new world where no one is safe from prying eyes.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 115 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from The Broken Window at author's page

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"The Vanished Man"

(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer MAR 31, 2003)

"Oh, yes, Revered audience, what you've seen and what you're about to see are very real.

As real as fire burning flesh.

As real as a rope knotted around a young girl's white neck.

As real as the circuit of the clock hands moving slowly toward the horror that our next performer is about to experience."

Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs have faced some pretty ingenious criminals...but none have had the talent for misdirection as their newest foe, who they've dubbed The Conjurer. The first victim is a young girl, a rope tied around her neck and feet in such a way that her struggles strangle her...it is an old trick, known as the lazy hangman, but the killer doesn't give her the outs that a performer would usually have. Two policewomen interrupt the murderer as he contemplates his crime, and they trap him in a windowless room. When they break down the door, they discover that he's gone...but was he ever even really in there?

Read excerptAmelia, fresh from a test that will, hopefully, prove her worthy of the rank of detective sergeant, goes to different magic shops with a list of the materials he used, where she encounters Kara, herself a magician in training working at one of the stores. Kara slips out and meets Sachs for coffee, and explains a great deal, about the difference between illusion and other forms of magic, about the psychology of magic, and most of all, about misdirection. Kara, who works hard to learn all aspects of magic and to pay for the care of her mother, becomes an invaluable weapon for Rhyme and Sachs. She understands a lot of the craft, and is able to explain the Conjurer's methods, even identify him as a man named Eric Weir. But will the considerable resources of these three be enough to stop him before he stages his grand finale?

Deaver takes all the nefarious aspects of magic and exploits them to the hilt. All writers are masters of misdirection, and he plays with the concept. Where usually a writer will distract you subtly, trying to give you the clues without giving away the plot, Deaver revels in the chance to use misdirection openly, as Weir distracts us over and over, making mistakes that just may be a part of a larger plan, creating horrors that draw our eyes over to stage right, while larger, darker things take place in the opposite corner. Nothing is what it seems, nothing can be trusted. It makes for extremely intense reading. In one particularly frightening scene, Weir visits Rhyme in his own bedroom. Rhyme is a quadriplegic, and can not feel or move anything from the neck down. The fact that he can breathe independently is a huge triumph. He's trapped...he can't move from the razors Weir flashes with the nonchalance of a man shuffling cards, and when the man sets fire to the room, the worry isn't just that Linc will slowly burn to death, but that his lungs, even if he is rescued, will be damaged beyond repair.

Deaver is also one of the few writers to successfully employ the homebound detective idea. The only other successful one I can think of is Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe with his sidekick Archie Goodwin. Both Rhyme and Wolfe are acerbic, and both carefully maneuver the aspects of the mystery to a resolution from their home. Linc is so talented, so swift, that he is still used for cases despite his inability to visit the field. Rhymes' Archie Goodwin is the admirable Amelia Sachs; and, they have a connection on several levels that works wonderfully. She softens Rhyme a bit, and her intelligence and careful nature make a good match for him. This type of mystery does two very interesting things...it gives us a duel perspective, as we have to spend time with both detectives, and it forces the writer to do some fancy foot work to allow both Rhyme and Sachs to be effective. And the way that Deaver handles this, they make a fabulous team.

The Vanished Man really threw me a couple of times...just when you're settled in to the plot and know what's going on, you find out that you've been tricked, misdirected...it leaves you unsettled, uncertain, until the very end.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 158 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from The Vanished Man at MostlyFiction.com

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"The Stone Monkey"

(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer JUN 26, 2002)

"They were the vanished, they were the unfortunate. To the human smugglers --- the snakeheads --- who carted them around the world like pallets of damaged goods, they were ju-ju, piglets."

The Fuzhou Dragon has departed from Russia with a cargo of two dozen people, illegal Chinese immigrants who are hoping to find a new life in the US. They are being brought in by the infamous Ghost, a mass murder desperately sought by several governments. When they are discovered by the US Coast Guard, the Ghost locks everyone in the hold and blows up the ship, escaping in a raft. Sam Chang and Captain Sen manage to escape into the engine room and help some of their fellow prisoners to another raft, but the ship sinks too fast, trapping Sen and the majority of the people. Chang and his group attempt to make land, but the Ghost sees them and gives chase, shooting at them.

Read excerptAfter a long time of nightmarish rafting, a few survivors get to shore. They steal a van and head to New York city, depending on the maze of buildings and crowds of people to hide them from the Ghost. The Ghost is not dissuaded, and decides to track each one down. They are too dangerous to him, for these few refuges are members of a very elite society --- a group of people who know what he looks like. He can not afford to let them live, and he begins a ruthless and bloody quest to get them.

Lincoln Rhyme is a consultant with the New York police department. The INS and FBI have heard of his reputation, and come to ask him for help. They have lost the Ghost's trail in Russia, and are hoping that Rhyme can help. He figures out where the Ghost is probably landing, and sends his girl friend and assistant CSI Amelia Sachs along with the FBI and the INS to the probable spot of his landing. While collecting evidence from the blown up ship, she discovers a live witness clinging to the rocks. Sung fills her in on events, providing her with the names of fellow survivors. She and Rhyme use this information to attempt to track them down, knowing that the Ghost will be doing the same.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the story is the Ghost. He lives up to his name perfectly --- incredibly frightening, and about as easy to catch. After a time you really begin to hate him, as he is too lucky, always just steps ahead of the people who would capture him. He is cruel and completely with out conscious. This makes the book hard to put down, because you're constantly hoping that someone will find him before he finds the survivors, especially the Changs. The Changs are very nice, honorable, brave, well written, and the thought that the Ghost might kill them honestly worried me.

Fortunately, the Ghost has met his match in Rhyme and Sachs. Rhyme is incredibly intelligent, and well versed in all aspects of crime scene investigation. An accident has forced him into retirement, but his wheelchair bound state doesn't make him less effective, rather it makes him more, because he turns his energies into inspecting every aspect of the clues before him, while his assistant Amelia goes to the scenes and brings more facts, more clues for him to probe. He has a very Sherlock Holmes feel, but Amelia is no Dr. Watson. She is his equal, able to discover things that others can not, and they work together with the precision of a well cared for watch. They make an interesting and believable couple. Following the Ghost's trail and trying to find the survivors before he does makes for an exciting and interesting story. This is not

Deaver's first Lincoln Rhyme novel, and I certainly hope that this won't be the last. I think that the book stands alone fine, and reading this before the others will not detract from the story in any way.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 164 reviews

Read an excerpt from The Stone Monkey



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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

Lincoln Rhyme/Amelia Sachs series:

Kathryn Dance* series:

Rune series:

Stand Alone Mysteries and Thrillers:

Stories:

007:

Writing as William Jefferies (Location Scout John Pelham Mystery series):

Movies from Books:

 

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Book Marks:

 

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About the Author:

Jeffery DeaverJeffery Deaver was born outside of Chicago in 1950. Deaver wrote his first book — which consisted of two entire chapters — when he was eleven, and he's been writing ever since. An award-winning poet and journalist, he has also written and performed his own songs around the country. After receiving a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri, Deaver worked as a magazine writer, then, to gain the background needed to become a legal correspondent for The New York Times or Wall Street Journal, he enrolled at Fordham Law School. After graduation he decided to practice law for a time and worked for several years as an attorney for a large Wall Street firm. It was during his long commute to and from the office that he began writing the type of fiction he enjoyed reading: suspense novels. In 1990 he started to write full time.

At this point, he is the author of seventeen suspense novels, including The Bone Collector, which was made into a feature film by Universal Pictures starring Denzel Washington. He has been nominated for five Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America and an Anthony Award, is a two-time recipient of the Ellery Queen Readers' Award for Best Short Story of the Year. In 2001 he won England's W.H. Smith Thumping Good Read Award for his Lincoln Rhyme novel The Empty Chair. A Maiden's Grave was made into a film rattled Dead Silence, starring James Garner.

Jeff is divorced, has no children, just one very large German Shepherd dog, Gunner. They live in Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C., and in California.

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