THE BURNING WIRE by Jeffery Deaver

Book Quote:

“As the passenger, still frowning at the smell, turned around and stepped onto the bus, the driver heard what sounded like pops coming from inside the substation. Sharp, almost like gunshots. Then a flash of light like a dozen suns filled the entire sidewalk between the bus and the cable dangling from the window.

The passenger simply disappeared into a cloud of white fire.

The driver’s vision collapsed to gray afterimages. The sound was like a ripping crackle and shotgun blast at the same time, stunning his ears. Though belted into his seat, his upper body was slammed backward against the side window.

Through numb ears, he heard the echoes of his passengers’ screams.

Through half-blinded eyes, he saw flames.

As he began to pass out, the driver wondered if he himself might very well be the source of the fire.”

Book Review:

Review by Chuck Barksdale (AUG 7, 2010)

Jeffery Deaver’s The Burning Wire is the ninth book to feature Lincoln Rhyme, a quadriplegic forensic criminologist and a retired lieutenant of the New York police department. This time, Lincoln and his team are challenged to find someone who is using electricity to kill and threaten people of New York City. The latest book in this series contains suspense, interesting and realistic characters and a great story to keep the reader satisfied from beginning to end.

Soon after an electrical arc flash explosion sends molten metal toward a bus that kills one person and injures several others near an Algonquin Consolidated Power and Light substation in Manhattan, Lincoln Rhyme and his team are called in to help. Lincoln conditions his help on his leading the team of police investigators to gather information and analyze the scene. While the team is investigating, the substation killer calls the police and makes unrealistic demands to cut electricity usage and threatens to do more killing if his demands are not met. Despite the efforts of Lincoln and his team to study the clues at the scene and in Lincoln’s townhouse forensic laboratory, the killer (or is it killers) strikes again.

While following this investigation, Lincoln is contacted by Kathryn Dance of the California Bureau of Investigation about a Mexican police trace that has found evidence of the Watchmaker, someone who Lincoln was unable to capture previously. Lincoln keeps up with the whereabouts of the Watchmaker through Commander Luna of the Mexican police. This dual investigation puts extra pressure on Lincoln as he pushes himself to catch both criminals, putting stress on his weakened health and extra worry on the two people who care the most about Lincoln, Amelia Sachs, his top field investigator and live-in lover, and Lincoln’s caregiver Thom Reston.

Deaver provides much suspense and a few twists along the way as Lincoln and his team try to stay ahead of the killer or killers. Sometimes Deaver lets the reader in before Lincoln can figure something out and sometimes he keeps the reader in the dark. In both cases though, the book is full of tension, interesting investigations and a strong need to keep reading to find out what happens next.

Deaver has created characters that contain strengths and weaknesses that make them interesting and believable. With the key characters, such as Lincoln Rhyme, Amelia Sachs, Fred Dellray, “rookie” Ron Pulaski, as well as the killer, Deaver provides even more into each character by presenting the story from their perspective. I especially enjoyed the parts when Fred Dellray goes undercover or works with his informants.

This book is at times a bit heavy on science, especially at the beginning, with a fair amount of description of the transmission, use and dangers of electricity. I’m an engineer so I’ve had lots of the basics before so it did not bother me but if you’re bored or intimidated by voltage and electrical current, you may want to stay away. For me, I enjoyed some of the details, but all you really need to know is that not a lot of electrical current is needed to kill someone. You will also learn to respect and fear electricity a lot more after reading this book.

This is the first book I have read by Jeffery Deaver, but it will not be the last. I normally prefer to start a series at the beginning and I’ve had the first book, The Bone Collector in my mountainous TBR pile for years, but I’ve still not read it. Nonetheless, I did not see that as a major issue in this book. I did check his website and Wikipedia to get a little more background on the characters and I watched  The Bone Collector movie, and that helped to understand more of the background and relationships of the several key characters. I’m not sure that was even necessary as Deaver does a good job in providing background on most of the characters, particularly as he changes the point of view among the major characters. Unfortunately, though I’m not able to compare this book to others, but I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed by the suspense and characters in this book.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 142 readers
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
REVIEWER: Chuck Barksdale
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Jeffery Deaver
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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August 7, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: New York City, Sleuths Series

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