Jeffery Deaver's last book featuring Lincoln Rhyme, Kill Room, left me slightly underwhelmed. There was a lot of political comment in the book that I found myself glossing over. Deaver also took quadriplegic Rhyme away from his New York City townhouse to a crime scene in the Bahamas, but it just didn't work for me. It seemed forced and almost gimmicky. It was an okay read, but not a standout in the series for me.
However, Deaver's latest book, The Skin Collector (#11) takes us back to what Lincoln Rhyme does best - and the type of story I like best - solving cases based on the evidence and minutiae gathered at a crime scene by his team. And Lincoln's superlative powers of deduction.
The Skin Collector opens with a wonderfully creepy scene that introduces us to the perpetrator, Billy. It's one of those chilling prologues that promises a great read. And it delivered. Billy is a tattoo artist who delights in finding pristine skin for inking his cryptic messages. And his choice of ink is deadly. Billy Haven is clever - he's studied Rhyme's methods and leaves little if anything behind at his scenes. Yes, plural - Billy has a plan and it looks like he's taking inspiration from Lincoln's first case - The Bone Collector.
Deaver employs the history of New York and it's tunnel and underground passages to great effect in The Skin Collector. I ended up checking out many of his references online - it's pretty fascinating history.
I thought I had predicted where the plot was going to go about three quarters of the way through the book. But I was pleasantly proven wrong! Deaver inserts a twist, then a turn, then another twist - and I think there may have been another turn. There was one plot element that I found tawdry and icky and somewhat unnecessary involving Billy's aunt. But on the whole, it was an inventive storyline. Part of it is taken from current new stories, making it plausible and relative. The ending finished on a nice little aha, leaving the door open for further entries in a parallel story line. (Yes, I'm being deliberately obtuse)
Familiar characters return - I'm growing quite fond of Ron Pulaski - and some interesting supporting players were introduced. I hope we see more of tattoo artist TT Gordon. 'Foster' daughter Pam can move away though. I find her attitude tiresome. Amelia is still razor sharp, but seems to have mellowed since solidifying her relationship with Linc.
The Skin Collector was a return to the Lincoln Rhyme I enjoy. It's a good crime read, one to tuck in the beach bag this summer. Read an excerpt of The Skin Collector. You can find Jeffery Deaver on Facebook and on Twitter.