Admittedly, I haven’t been quite the voracious reader that I am known for being amongst family and friends. I admit defeat to the Internet Gods and the ubiquitously interesting content. On top of that, I am quite whimsical in my reading behavior; I’ll read a little bit of four or five books at a time. I’m very much a mood reader (and film watcher, music listener, etc.). That also applies to my purchases of books, which is how I came to read Jeffery Deaver’s latest book and Lincoln Rhyme novel, The Kill Room, the tenth such book featuring Deaver’s most enduring character.
If you’re not familiar, Rhyme is a quadriplegic, but more importantly, he’s the most brilliant forensic scientist in the world. Along with his girlfriend, the no-nonsense, ass-kicking, Amelia Sachs, they are quite the formidable duo. Maybe you’ll remember 1999’s The Bone Collector, which featured Denzel Washington as Rhyme and Angelina Jolie as Sachs? In any event, Rhyme while being a scientific genius, he is also extremely sarcastic, just-the-facts-ma’am kinda guy. Amelia isn’t without her physical limitations either, as she deals with almost debilitating arthritis in her knee. They have a whole slew of great characters underneath them: a rookie cop out to prove himself, the grizzled veteran cop that’s really a softy, a computer tech guy, another great forensic scientist and Thom, Rhyme’s assistant who brings a great deal of balance to the sardonic wit of Rhyme.
The case they tackle in this newest novel is ripped straight out of the headlines. Essentially, a United States citizen was killed by the United States government in the Bahamas. Rhyme, in a rare move, even ventures from his lofty residence in Manhattan to the Bahamas itself to investigate. Meanwhile, the top man at the agency whom oversaw the assassination has extremely volatile anger issues (almost a tad over the top for my taste), there’s an assassin cleaning up the mess of witnesses and such, and the police force in the Bahamas wants nothing to do with such a potentially politically-charged case.
Throughout the novel, there is ample discussion about the debate we’re experiencing right now: how much security do we want to go after terrorists versus how much of the law (due process, the 4th amendment) do we want to uphold? The characters debate this and even get into the 2nd Amendment, which I thought felt more like Deaver’s voice than Sachs, whom was voicing the opinion. Deaver even addresses the real-life killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American imam the U.S. government killed with a drone bomb in 2011; thought to be the “bin Laden of the Internet.” All in all, I’m a fan of authors weaving into their fictional stories real life elements and then playing on those for dramatic effect.
Certainly, this novel wouldn’t be a Deaver novel without a plethora of twists and turns throughout, some of which I suspected and others that I didn’t see coming. I especially liked his characterization of the assassin. He was a knife-wielding psycho who had a unique take on cooking and preparing food; he took a much romanticized view of it all. And of course, he applied that surgical precision in cooking to his kills, which made him a truly fascinating killer to follow.
Without giving away the plot points too much, I felt the story wrapped up fairly well when it still had thirty or so pages left. Those additional pages felt too shoe-horned in for my taste, even as a lifelong Deaver fan. I understand what he was going for – greying up the issue of U.S. drones, assassinations, due process, who is a terrorist and who isn’t and so forth, but it felt tacked on instead of a seamless addition to the narrative he was telling. He had already effectively “greyed up” the narrative without the additional story at the end.
Even so, this is a book worth reading because it features Lincoln Rhyme. His inner thoughts, his stern pushing for more evidence and logical deductions and his absolutely courageous will to defy his physical limitations always makes for a fun read. He’s one of the greatest heroes (and he would intellectually dismiss me for coining him as such) in literary fiction. Plus, as I said, the story is a page-turner, as Deaver’s prose keeps the story progressing at an expedited pace.