THE BURNING WIRE - Jeffery Deaver
Having only ever read the very first Lincoln Rhyme book, I was wondering if THE BURNING WIRE, the 9th in this series would work.
Obviously there's been a lot happen in Lincoln Rhyme's life, not the least of which is the medical issues he deals with due to his quadriplegia. But he has a great supporting staff, including his personal carer, and a loving relationship with a member of his investigating team - Amelia Sachs. As somebody absolutely not immersed in this series, the backstory, his current situation, everything about Lincoln fell into place nicely and there was no feeling whatsoever of this reader being left out of the loop.
The central plot of this book is an interesting one. Somebody is using the Manhattan electricity grid to kill people, holding the power company and the City to ransom. The instant conclusion is terrorism, and some authorities seem to head off down a series of rabbit holes, while Rhyme's group quietly, methodically and urgently build a picture of their quarry from the facts at each crime scene. As this picture builds, facts start to fit the profile - leading not too far down the path to an identity for the man at the centre of this threat. Finding him, however, is not so easy.
There are a number of interesting aspects to this book, which moves along at a very rapid pace. Firstly there is the nature of the threat, and the way in which the electricity grid is being used as a weapon, rather than simply having the grid itself threatened. Then there is the way that the perpetrator is identified, but still not able to be located, despite his identity rapidly leading to motivation. As the profile of this man builds, the chase becomes more intense, and his team on the ground face many personal threats and problems, and still the killer can't be found. Along the way Rhyme is following the story of his arch-enemy, The Watchmaker, who is far away and proving a problem for authorities in Mexico.
The best part of THE BURNING WIRE is the way that the plot builds. As each element is revealed - the how / the who and the why, there is still that desperate feeling of how they are possibly going to find one man in a city like Manhattan. As each part of the puzzle contributes more to their understanding of what is driving this killer, how he works, what he's thinking, there's also the impact of that silent, invisible, deadly weapon. Even with an idea of what the killer is going to do next, the problem remains - how do they find him / how do they stop him / how do they avoid being one of his victims. What was less successful were the frequent forays into the whys and wherefores of electricity which will probably be exactly what appeals to others - but for this reader, it was too detailed and too intrusive. Add to that a rather convoluted final twist in the central plot which was disappointing. Until that point, there had been a sense of something particularly chilling and believable about a lone random threat. Whilst that did result in THE BURNING WIRE being a book where the journey was considerably more satisfying than the destination, it was a very good wild ride.
Lincoln Rhyme is back, on the trail of a killer whose weapon of choice cripples New York City with fear.
The weapon is invisible and omnipresent. Without it, modern society grinds to a halt. It is electricity. The killer harnesses and steers huge arc flashes with voltage so high and heat so searing that steel melts and his victims are set afire.
When the first explosion occurs in broad daylight, reducing a city bus to a pile of molten, shrapnel-riddled metal, officials fear terrorism. Rhyme, a world-class forensic criminologist known for his successful apprehension of the most devious criminals, is immediately tapped for the investigation. Long a quadriplegic, he assembles NYPD detective Amelia Sachs and officer Ron Pulaski as his eyes, ears and legs on crime sites, and FBI agent Fred Dellray as his undercover man on the street. As the attacks continue across the city at a sickening pace, and terrifying demand letters begin appearing, the team works desperately against time and with maddeningly little forensic evidence to try to find the killer. Or is it killers...?
Meanwhile, Rhyme is consulting on another high-profile investigation in Mexico with a most coveted quarry in his crosshairs: the hired killer known as the Watchmaker, one of the few criminals to have eluded Rhyme's net.
Juggling two massive investigations against a cruel ticking clock takes a toll on Rhyme's health. Soon Rhyme is fighting on yet another front - and his determination to work despite his physical limitations threatens to drive away his closest allies when he needs them most...