The Burial Hour is the 13th entry in Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series.
For those who haven't read this series - Rhyme is a quadriplegic with limited hand control. Formerly an NYPD detective, he now works for them as a consultant. His fiance Amelia Sachs, also a NYPD detective, is his eyes on the ground, attending the crime scenes and gathering evidence.
Settling in with the latest Deaver is like catching up with old friends. The romance between the two leads is moving (slowly) towards marriage. The 'business' part of their relationship is successful - their combined skill sets are renowned in police circles. The supporting cast includes Rhyme's care worker Thom. I did miss NYPD investigators Sellito and Pulaski who only have brief cameos this time 'round. I feel like I've come to know all the players quite well over the last twelve novels. So, settling in with this latest is like catching up with old friends.
In The Burial Hour, seemingly unrelated victims are being snatched in broad daylight. The miniature noose left at each crime scene ties the cases together. But it is what the perp is doing with his victims that is horrendous. He is obsessed with sounds and music and is filming the death throes of his victims, using their tortured sounds as part of a musical accompaniment. The killer is given a voice through his own chapters and the reader is privy to his reasoning before the cops are.
At the heart of this series is Rhyme's uncanny ability to find clues in the most minute of trace evidence. And it is this skill that puts the cops on the trail of the killer they now call The Composer. That trail takes Rhyme and Sachs overseas to Italy. Deaver has done this in previous books - moving the crime and investigation to different countries. I'm not sure I'm sold on it. It does provide an opportunity to introduce new characters and new settings. At the same time it provides the opportunity for the investigation to be more difficult as laws and practices are differen from the US. While I found the settings and law in Italy interesting, I quickly grew tired of the two Italian leads - a forestry officer and a prosecutor. I felt they were overdrawn - one is quite bright, but a novice, the other is secretive and bullying. The number of times this was demonstrated grew tiresome.
There is always a secondary plot to Deaver's books. This time it's an American accused of rape in Italy. Can Sachs and Ryhme help expose the truth? This plotline was quite different with the whodunit and why quite removed from my initial assumptions. It also showcases a current political viewpoint. The resolution of that case opens up a new possibility for future books - one that looks quite promising.
It is the forensic detail that I enjoy the most about this series. The minutiae that provides the clues. The sharp analytical mind (and personality) of Lincoln Rhyme. I mentioned that reading this series was like sitting down with old friends. And it is - but this latest book kinda reminds me of friends who are telling the same stories each time, albeit with a few twists. Enjoyable but not mesmerizing. Read an excerpt of The Burial Hour.