Quadriplegic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme fights to save a schoolgirl somebody’s determined to kill?
At first the attack on Geneva Settle looks like a routine sexual assault. The masked man who nearly left her dead in New York’s Museum of African-American Culture and History even left a bag of rape accessories behind when he pursued Geneva into the street, where he shot a librarian three times. But the trademark death-on-rats forensic work Rhyme orders strongly suggests that the bag may have been left behind as a decoy—the first of many false trails Thompson Boyd, Geneva’s sinister assailant, lays for the NYPD’s Det. Amelia Sachs and Lt. Lou Sellitto. Was Boyd interested in the microfiche Geneva was reading? Is his motive connected to a century-old crime, or one that hasn’t happened yet? As Rhyme and his colleagues close in on Boyd, he closes in on Geneva, who stubbornly resists police intrusions into her family circle and life at Langston Hughes High School and pays a high price in vulnerability. Despite the brilliance of Rhyme’s work and some heartbreaking near-misses in their manhunt, Boyd and his own co-conspirators seem able to strike at will, and few readers will turn off the lights and leave Rhyme’s sixth case unfinished. Deaver is as tricky as ever, strewing secrets broadcast among good guys as well as bad. As in his last few cases (The Vanished Man, 2003, etc.), however, Deaver’s like a departing dinner guest who just can’t resist telling one more anecdote; the capture of the perp is followed by a whole string of anticlimactic surprises that yield diminishing returns—though the revelation of the conspirators’ true motive is a humdinger.
There’s no question, though, about Deaver’s unexcelled ability to pull the wool over your eyes. When he describes a colorless, odorless glass of liquid as water, don’t assume it is until somebody drinks it down—or maybe till an hour later.