The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver

by Kristopher Cook
Time to Read: 4 minutes

Jeffery Deaver’s been a name I’ve seen lining bookstores for years (much like James Patterson), but I’ve never bothered to give him a try.

I was talking with my Dad and he mentioned that he owns a few, ok a lot, of his books and I should give them a try; so here we are.

The Bone Collector is as the title suggests. An unknown perp is abducting New York civilians and then brutally murdering them using a puzzle.

When I say a puzzle, I don’t mean like the lament box from Hellraiser or the tasks involved in the Saw movies, no.

For example, one of the first two victims is tied up opposite an open steam valve in the underground waterworks. This act is to give the police a chance to find her as the steam’s pressure won’t be released until a specific time of day.

If successful, they’ll have freed the victim, but if not, then her face will be ferociously burnt off.

From here on the potential deaths become more and more gruesome.

To Catch A Killer

As a crime scene thriller, the book needs its patrol officer. Enter Lincoln Rhyme, former head of NYPD crime scene operations.

However, Rhyme can no longer work for the force anymore due to an accident several years prior that left him quadriplegic and paralysed from the neck down.

Due to his struggles with the situation he’s decided to end his own life with the help of a doctor who specialises in euthanasia.

Meanwhile, NYPD Detective Amelia Sachs stumbles across a body buried in the ground with the hand sticking out. The hand has uniquely had one finger whittled down to the bone and has a large cocktail ring sitting on its forefinger.

Searching The Scene

The killers’ purposely leaving behind vague clues as to where the next victim is. The problem is solving these clues in time.

Through homicide detectives Lon Sellitto and Jerry Banks, Sachs begins to use Rhyme as a mentor, against her will to stay on the force, due to her increasing pain caused by arthritis.

Throughout the story, there’s a constant back and forth battle between Amelia and Lincoln, each trying to assert their own desires on the case.

Rhyme would desperately love to comb the crime-scenes for clues but needs Sachs as his surrogate body, whereas Sachs would like nothing more than to hand the case over to Rhyme and leave for a desk role within the force.

Creating Tension

Tension is increased further between the two when Sachs discovers Rhyme’s desire to end his own life. Here, Deaver’s brilliant writing comes into its own.

The pressure created between the two is incredibly dynamic and something that’s rarely seen in books, never mind a crime thriller.

The narrative is written from a third-person perspective, jumping back and forth between Lincoln Rhyme, often at home with his carer Tom, Amelia Sachs, who’s out working the crime-scenes, and the unknown killer.

It gives a detached look at his actions as they take place, leaving the reader knowing that something terrifying is about to take place, but as of yet, you don’t know what.

As I’ve mentioned above, the depth of the characters is nothing short of fantastic. Both Rhyme and Sachs are perfect counterbalances to each other, but both are somewhat flawed individuals.

The book’s most significant moments come from when they’re slogging it out with each other about where the next victim is, how they’ll be found and ultimately, how they’ll stop the killer.

The bone collector packs so many punches; it really is a book that’s difficult to put down.

And the ending!

Just when you think you’ve had your surprise twist, there’s still more to come, with the closing chapters twisting the story further and presumably set up for a sequel.

My favourite parts are always the descriptions describing how Rhyme feels confined to his wheelchair, unable to do the basic things that we so often take for granted.

These movements range from turning the pages of a book, pressing the back of his hand to his eye when tired, and feeling the touch of a woman lying next to him.

It’s these moments that separate The Bone Collector from the usual thriller pile.

Closing Thoughts

The Bone Collector is an excellent thriller that’ll keep you gripped until the closing chapters.

In-depth character development, an engaging plot and a sense of suspense throughout, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any crime-fiction that’s better than this.

If you enjoy your crime-fiction dark, gritty, and at times gruesome, you’ll love this one.

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