The Burning Wire by Jeffrey Deaver

Part of the Lincoln Rhyme series. A slow-burner but gripping in the end.

Quadriplegic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme and his partner, NYC detective Amelia Sachs, return in the 9th book of the bestselling series. This time, they are racing against the clock to stop a killer who uses electricity in a variety of lethal ways to kill random members of the Manhattan public. To complicate matters, they are simultaneously attempting to track down one of the few criminals ever to escape Rhyme’s grasp (a follow on from a previous book in the series).

I’ve read all of the Lincoln Rhyme books and I love them for the vivid characters, the attention to detail and the page-turning thrills. I love the fact that in every book, there are twists and turns that occur as a result of conclusions drawn from the tiniest speck of evidence. You know that everything you read will count. You don’t necessarily work out how or why but you find yourself reading something into everything, searching for that elusive clue, and you know that whatever happens, however small or insignificant it may seem, it will have a bearing on something at some point. Every book features criminals with unique modus operandi and there are ongoing sub-plots – Rhyme’s attempted recovery from his paralysis, his relationship with Sachs, the developing roles of his handpicked ‘team’ – that keep the stock characters fresh.

The Burning Wire is no exception to this and it launched with a literally explosive Chapter 1. However, unusually for the Lincoln Rhyme series, it then lacked pace for much of the novel. A feeling of lethargy pervaded the book. Perhaps this was meant to echo the Rhyme’s personal limbo status. In previous books, he has made tiny but significant steps towards regaining some movement in his paralysed body but by this book, progress has come to a standstill and he begins to question, not for the first time, his place in the world and what the future holds for him. In addition, he struggles with health problems related to his paralysis which leave him exhausted and struggling to concentrate on the job. However, even taking this into account, the plot developed at a frustratingly slow pace. Things happened, evidence was examined but the twists and turns that you expect from a Lincoln Rhyme book didn’t make an appearance until near the end. Then, as usual, I couldn’t put it down and devoured the ending in one sitting that ran into the small hours!

Overall, the idea of using electricity as a weapon was genius, the conclusion was gripping and satisfying (both main plot and sub-plots) but the book as a whole was a little disappointing. If you’ve never read a Lincoln Rhyme, go and read the others first.

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