award-winning writer Jeffery Deaver’s 12th novel about the adventures of
Lincoln Rhyme, his quadriplegic forensic investigator. The series started with
the character’s debut in The Bone Collector, which was, of course, made into
the 1999 thriller starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.
In The Steel Kiss, Rhyme has left the
police force to become an investigator for civil cases, creating a degree of
separation between himself and his long-term collaborator, detective Amelia
Sachs. She is on the trail of a killer and is about to nab him in a fast-food
joint, when a freak accident occurs leaving a customer trapped horribly in the
gears of an escalator.
Rhyme struggles to work out who was responsible for the escalator malfunction
so that the victim’s impoverished widow can get compensation. The first half of
the story involving Rhyme’s delving into the workings of the escalator is very
strands to the story include the first-person narration of the Sach's psycho,
distinctively tall and skinny; and the reappearance in her life of Nick
Carelli, her one-time lover and colleague who went to jail for robbery and
assault. The thriller’s overall theme is the current hot topic of the
Internet’s penetration of our lives via network-connectivity, including
household devices – and their potential misuse remotely.
in the story, Rhymes says: ‘With criminalistics – forensic science – there is
not a single crime that cannot be solved'. That kind of thinking has imbued
forensics in fiction and on TV with a near-sacrosanct status. A smidge of DNA
is often the magic bullet leading to conviction, a pubic hair is a cherished
silent witness, and CSI technicians single-handedly track down and arrest
evil-doers with the application of science. This hyping of forensic science has
famously caused the CSI effect, whereby juries in the US request DNA evidence
even when it is superfluous (the accused, for instance, admits he was at the
Steel Kiss the reader is treated as though they are a forensic sleuth.
There are many pages devoted to long discussions about forensics and evidence
lists with entries such as this: ‘Soil sample, likely from unsub, containing
crystalline aluminosilicate clays: montmorillonite, illite, vermiculite,
chlorite, kaolinite, additionally, organic colloids…’ And so on. Presumably we
are meant to study such lists, while caressing our chins pondering the chemical
properties before us. Or perhaps we just skip over them?
series novel like this has its problems. Devotees of Lincoln Rhyme are
presumably well up to speed with the hinterland of the principal characters.
But anyone coming to the series fresh with The Steel Kiss might find them a bit flat. Rhyme himself
displays little inner life here for much of the story, his two character traits
seeming to be impatience and annoyance, with the imprecise use of English.
Sachs does come alive with the appearance of Nick Carelli, whose quest to prove
his innocence is a juicy, if underplayed, storyline. Perhaps the most vivid
character is that of the killer, whose first-person narrative is lurid but
hard to argue with Deaver's spectacular success – more than 20million books
sold. However, for forensics fans looking to get into Rhyme’s world, it might
be better to start with The Bone
Collector and work towards The