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The Bone Collector - Jeffery Deaver

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Genre: Crime / Thriller

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      25.10.2011 11:51
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      Grouchy forensic detective solves clues to prevent brutal murders.

      Reading a Jeffrey Deaver novel was this month's book group task and I was fortunate enough to grab the first book in the Lincoln Rhyme series. 'Fortunate' because I usually find the books I end up reading as a result of the book group are the seventh or nineteenth in a series and I always wonder what I'm missing as a result of simply diving in.

      -- The Premise --

      Lincoln Rhyme is a world leading forensic criminalist - or rather, he was. Rendered a quadriplegic by an accident at work, Rhyme has gradually rejected the world around him and has now only wishes to die. As he is only able to move one finger below his neck, he is trying to talk someone into helping him commit suicide. When old colleagues approach him seeking help with a new and gruesome case, he is drawn back into the tense world of crime solving. At each crime scene, the killer leaves clues to the next. Can Rhyme solve them in time? And will he still want to die when the case is over?

      -- Waiting to die --

      This novel is a psychological / forensic thriller and Rhyme is a fairly typical detective for this genre: he is lonely, disillusioned, divorced, and finds refuge in a bottle of Scotch. However, his physical flaw is an unusually harsh one and does make this story have a different feel to those with similarly grouchy lead characters. His disability has allowed him to gradually restrict his interest and involvement with the world to his interaction with one aide, Thom, and his misery is apparent. His condition guarantees a certain level of sympathy, so even when he treats victims with shocking carelessness he never becomes a cruel figure but remains vulnerable. So he's a bit miserable but his condition at least gives him the right to be miserable.

      Equally typically, he's a genius. Despite the introduction of various other characters, including NYPD officers and FBI agents, only one other character even comes close to Rhyme's brilliance - and he overshadows her intellectually. Part of me is annoyed by the character's arrogance and Deaver's stereotypical approach, (young, smartish female learns from older, arrogant genius male,) but the fact that the story essentially follows the way he solves these clues means that the reader can't get that step ahead and is instead gripped by the narrative. What could the skeleton of the snake possibly mean? Where exactly did that dirt come from? Why the fondness for the name Hanna?
      Of course, this novel is introduced as the first in a new series, so the reader never really believes that he will die, but it's an unusual enough twist to be interesting. (There are at least seven books in the series now so I'm guessing the death wish has receded somewhat.)

      -- The Portable's Daughter --

      Although the blurb only mentions Rhyme, the book (and I assume the rest of the series) actually features two main characters. Amelia Sachs is enduring her last day of Patrol before transferring into Public Affairs when she is asked to investigate a sighting of a body. A man has been buried and his hand is stretching out of the earth. Upon meeting Rhyme, Sachs finds herself 'walking the grid' at crime scenes, trying to save victims and collect valuable evidence. Initially furious at Rhyme's presumption and apparent omnipotence, she soon becomes deeply involved in the case. As the main female character in a crime novel, Sachs also has to have secrets, flaws and be generally unhappy. Fine. Fair enough. But - it is obvious very early on that the two main characters will form a special bond as Sachs becomes Rhyme's eyes and ears. I found the deepening relationship the only boring aspect of the novel. I really dislike the apparent requirement to have a love interest and found the whole 'sparks-flying-mask-mutual-meeting-of-souls' stuff a bit too sappy. I don't need them to have human sides; I just want them to do their jobs! Sachs' character plays a crucial role in the story and I didn't object to that; I just wished the 'tender bonding' wasn't included.

      Interestingly, her past is one that could come back someday, so I thought Deaver laid the groundwork effectively for something to happen later on in the series.

      -- Neodymium:yttrium aluminium garnet lasers --

      No, I have no idea what that means either, but it's something Rhyme uses to do something forensic-y. Reading parts of this book was a little like watching CSI. That didn't bother me: I just skimmed over the names of complicated equipment and procedures and focused on what the characters found out as a result. However, I can imagine that some readers might find the sheer wealth of technical terms a little annoying and / or intrusive. Personally, I felt that the details were very relevant since the criminal actually knew forensics too and was trying to play some kind of game with the police. Of course, I really enjoy watching CSI precisely because of the focus on evidence, so the similarity would appeal to me.

      Although the forensics are the main focus there is sufficient focus on running about trying to save lives, interviewing witnesses and developing motives for the plot to feel well rounded. The killer turns out to have an interesting blueprint and as that is gradually revealed his motives begin to come to light. I liked that I couldn't guess the killer in advance but also that when I had finished the book I could see how the reveal worked and that there were some hints along the way.

      -- Neatly tied up --

      When I finished reading the book I felt pleasantly satisfied. Everything was resolved in a sufficiently plausible manner and the book felt self-contained. I liked that there was no pressure to read the next book in that there are no big cliff-hangers forcing you to purchase number two in the series. I would be interested in the next book, but I like not feeling pressurised by a false ending.

      I liked the twists and turns as the ending approached. I particularly liked the punch line involving the final victims, which tied off a thread that had seemed a little random. I felt the story kept my interest very well because, by the end, I had forgotten a detail that I meant to keep in mind because I was following events so closely. When that detail returned I liked the way it fitted in with what had gone before.
      The chapters are organised into sections which are headed up by days and times. The whole action of the story takes place over four days and there is so much happening in terms of the investigation that I did find it hard to find a good stopping point. The actual ending is a bit gruesome and, I'll be honest, I thought it was slightly ridiculous. However, it wasn't weak enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the novel.

      Some readers have complained about the realism of the novel. Not being a police officer myself I don't feel that I can comment on how realistic it is to set up a lab in a civilian's bedroom and have a Patrol officer act as a CSI. I have to admit that it does not sound particularly feasible. However, I thought that more generally the protocols and behaviour of the various officers was convincing and I did not find the rather less realistic elements distracted from my interest in the story.

      -- Final thoughts --

      I wasn't really expecting much from this book but I was pleasantly surprised. I found it to be tightly plotted and consistently interesting. The characters are rather stereotypical and their burgeoning relationship a slight distraction from the real story, but I found it interesting following the threads of the case as they unravelled. The structure of the story (trying to keep one step ahead of the killer) is not new but is well handled. If you like crime fiction that focuses on forensics and genius detectives then this would suit you. Recommended.

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        24.10.2011 15:49
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        Generally excellent first Lincoln Rhyme novel

        I had a preconceived idea of what this book would be like before I had even picked it up, and I'm sure I'm not alone, having already seen the film, realised the twist in the plot and thus lost so much appeal in reading the book. However, if you feel the same I urge you to reconsider and pick this up, as there are enough significant differences between the book and the film to ensure that you won't be let down.

        Indeed, after a few pages I found myself transfixed, following an introduction where we get to see things from our deluded serial killer's perspective and meet the heroine of the book, New York cop Amelia Sachs, as she fights to preserve a rather gruesome crime scene. The magnitude of the murder, clues left and a need for profiling and the very best investigators needed takes them to the house of quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme, former crime scene genius who has lost the will to leave following an accident at work leaving him only able to move his head and ring finger.

        Reluctantly agreeing to help despite his demeanour and lack of care, Rhyme and Sachs get off to a shaky start as they try to solve the murder and decipher the clues left by the murderer before the next victim dies. Jeffrey Deaver is very sure to give us as much detail as possible, not shying away from scientific terminology and detail as Rhyme puts his considerable brain to task as they close in on the killer. The author makes sure that despite it being a very gruesome and detailed plot, it's still very much a character driven one, and this is what drew me in and made it hard to put down.

        There is the rare moment when things get so detailed and scientific and historically long winded that you find yourself wanting to skim through a bit to get back to the action, but thankfully these moments are few and far between, and I suppose at least with these moments Deaver isn't dumbing it down and assuming we're not able to take in details with the action - we're treated not just as learned but also as ardent students would be as he tries to get us interested in the history, science and psychology he clearly loves writing about.

        It's riveting reading for the most part though, and there are sufficient breaks in the text that provide good stopping points, even though I really didn't want to stop at any point, if I'm honest. Deaver has now written a number of novels featuring Rhyme, and I will definitely give them a go at some point. His writing style is relatively fast paced and occasionally frantic as you try to keep up with his eagerness as Rhyme and Sachs manage to battle their differences and work together to close in on their killer as the novel progresses.

        The conclusion to the book is gripping, and the twist(s) will no doubt get you perfectly. I must admit it had been a while since I had seen the film and although I vaguely remembered the method of revealing the killer, I couldn't remember for sure remember who it was - thus the twist reveal for me was a genuine one, and excellently weighted and paced. I'm really looking forward to reading the next Rhyme book - recommended.

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          11.08.2010 21:19

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          A brilliant crime novel that keeps you gripped from the start.

          I had already seen the film of The Bone Collector - although that was a few years ago now - so I thought I knew what to suspect from this novel. However, as always seems to be the case, the book is better by far than the film. The novel is fast-paced and full of suspense. It leaves you reading until late into the night because you just can't bear to put it down. I fell in love with both Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs - despite the fact that Rhyme could be incredibly difficult at times but for me that just added to his charm. Both of these characters were so well written and 'fleshed out' (no pun intended!) that I felt as though they could have been real people rather than just characters in a story. I also enjoyed the parts written from the killer's point of view - they gave me a real insight into the workings of his mind.
          My only criticism of the book would be that, although I found the forensic detail to be very interesting and essential for this type of novel, at times Deaver just included too much scientific information and I found myself skipping over a few pages just to get back to the story.
          Overall, a brilliant novel and I can't wait to get my hands on the next one in the series!

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          03.02.2010 21:30
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          No crime / thriller fan should be without this on their bookshelf!

          The Bone Collector is the first in Jeffrey Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series and the book that introdced me to the chilling brillance of his novels.

          The story begins with inexperienced New York cop Amelia Sachs responding to a call from an isolated railway track. Here she finds the disturbing site of a hand sticking out of the ground and the scene provides the first demonstration that this girl has guts! Jumping in front of a moving train to protect the crime scene, Amelia immediately understands the importance of the items left behind. Following her instincts she preserves the scene protecting the clues left behind by a killer.

          When NYPD seek help in tracking down the serial killer dubbed the 'Bone Collector' they take us to the town house of Lincoln Rhyme. A well-known and respected Criminalist at the forefront of his profession, Rhyme has achieved both notoriety in his field and the position of NYPD Head of Forensics. There is no one better qualified for the battle of intellect and wits that is to be fought with this killer but for the results of a tragic accident whilst working a scene that has left Lincoln a Quadriplegic. With an outstanding mind trapped within the prison of his own body Lincoln is introduced as an anti-social, sarcastic, isolated individual severely lacking in social skills. It is hard to figure out why I loved this character so much because there really shouldn't be anything likeable about him.

          Rhyme is intrigued by reports of the officer who attended this scene and whilst her own bosses condemn her actions as reckless, Rhyme identifies with her and requests her personally to work on the case. Although she has never worked a crime scene Rhyme see something in this gutsy beat cop that tells him she has potential in forensics. In guiding her every step via radio whilst she 'walks the grid' of the crime scene Amelia becomes Rhyme's legs, arms and eyes and through her he is able to rediscover the field he loved. With the aid of Amelia and a huge array of hi-tech equipment Rhyme, a man with no more movement from the neck down than that in one finger, can once again demonstrate why he has gained his reputation.

          Together Rhyme and Amelia quickly form a formidable team complementing each other. Although on a personal front you couldn't even say they liked one another at the start, throughout the book they develop a respect for each other. The exploration of the relationship between Rhyme and Amelia is as integral to the book as the forensics despite the extremely subtle way it has been written. Deaver crafts a unique relationship between his central characters, which I feel, benefited from Rhyme's physical condition by preventing the story taking the obvious turns.

          Through remarkably well written characters and the expert use of forensic language you are swept along with this gripping thriller in a game of cat and mouse in pursuit of the killer. Just behind the killer at every step, through Amelia's hands Rhyme is able to reconstruct each scene extracting the evidence in a race against time before the killer strikes again. Following both the clues that the killer intended to leave plus those gained through Rhymes skill, logic and instincts the pair strive to understand the mind of a killer. Unlike many crime thrillers I found this book to be anything but predictable and was hooked from cover to cover.

          In 1999 The Bone Collector was released as a movie staring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. If you have seen the movie and liked it you will love the book. May be a little grusome for some tasts but if this genre is your thing this is a must read, highly recommended!

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            15.10.2009 15:48

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            A page turner

            The Bone Collector introduces the world to Jeffrey Deaver's best loved character, the quadripelgic criminalogist Lincoln Rhyme.

            It tells the story of Rhyme, paralysed from the neck down save for a ring finger, being drawn back to his life as a forensic examiner, when a killer by the name of The Bone Collector begins leaving macabre crime scenes.

            There is real forensic science techniques used in what is essentially the written equivalent of a hollywood blockbuster (incidentally, the book was turned into a hollywood blockbuster starring Denzil Washington and Angelina Jolie which was pretty terrible). The story is fairly ridiculous but it moves along at a break neck pace, not giving you time to think about all the plotholes! It's fun to try and guess the twists and then read in disbelief when the metaphorical rug is pulled from underneath you when there is a twist to the twist.

            The characterization is fairly broad, but the reason to read these books is to be entertained, not gain an insight into the human condition. The very epitomy of a page turner.

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            11.02.2009 10:17
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            Well written thriller, suspense novel,

            I think I am probably in the minority when I say that I have never seen the film of this book. As a result I had no preconceived ideas of what the book was about or even what would happen over and above the blurb that was written on the back.

            I wasn't disappointed - this is one of the best books I have written. It was almost impossible to put down. The main charcter of the book is Lincoln Rhyme - he is a renowned forensic criminalist , but he has a couple of problems as the book starts;
            1: He is a quadraplegic after an accident and can only control things through his little finger.
            2. He is just about to commit suicide.

            He is then contacted about a bizarre murder relating to two people who were kidnapped at the airport. This is all set against the backdrop of a huge UN summit.

            Lincoln decides to help on the case and enlists the help of Amelia Sachs, a police Officer who was on the scene of the initial murder to become his forensic partner. This was also a last day for Amelia also as she was due to change jobs but their whole future is turned upside down, once they get involved with the hunt for the bone collector.

            The book is really well written and it is very easy to see a picture in your minds eye of everything that is going on. It makes you feel really nervous in places - will they get there in time? Will they be able to save them?

            I think I propable will read this book again - but perhaps I'll watch the film first. I expect I'll enjoy the book more than the film - I always find once I have read the book I tend to be disappointed by the film!!!

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              18.11.2008 01:18
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              Worth a read but not more than £3.

              Jeffrey Deaver, the author of this book, also wrote the screenplay for the film so if you've seen the film and liked it, you'll probably like the book too. If you've never heard of either the film or the book before, the book is the best place to start I think as I personally appreciate the film better for having enjoyed the book first.


              The story is all about Lincoln Rhyme, a quadriplegic detective who is bedridden but still determined to keep his mind on crime. Young Police Woman Amelia Sachs is his hands and eyes down on the floor following his instructions. The pair are working together to track down a serial killer who's leaving some seriously disturbing clues in his wake.


              There's something about Lincoln Rhyme that's a bit similar to Thomas Harris's Will Graham in that he can relate to the killer a bit TOO well in places. It's eerie and it's almost frightening how thin the line between good and evil can be sometimes. But it makes for fascinating reading in places.


              This crime thriller novel will set you back just over £4 from Amazon which I actually think is a bit high. Yes this is an enjoyable read but it's nothing dramatically different to all the other crime thrillers on the market. I think it's better if you get this on loan or wait until you see it in a sale.

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                21.06.2002 20:25
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                New York is preparing for a UN summit, when two taxi passengers are kidnapped. Amelia Sachs(a patrol cop) is searching for evidence about the kidnapping after a anonymous tip-off when she makes a gruesome discovery, a human hand rising from the ground, flesh stripped to the bone! Lincoln Rhyme was a reknown criminologist in the NYPD until a tragic accident cut his career short and left him quadraplegic. Currently contimplating assisted suicide Rhyme is called upon by his old colleagues to help catch the kidnapper/killer "The bone collector" before he kills again. Cunningly the bone collector has left clues at the crimescene intentionally, to the whereabouts of his next victim. A game of cat and mouse ensues. Jeffrey Deaver is a genius of crime writing, and as such The Bone Collector has to be regarded as a masterpiece of criminal literature. Not so much thriller, as chiller, the novel transports the reader into the world and minds of Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs with ease. Deaver's descriptive prose is at times stomache-churningly accurate. The brutality of the crimes are portayed with clarity. This is definitely not a novel for the squeemish, as the mutilations are described in intense detail. The chase of the killer is relentless, with breathtaking action throughout, and the power shifting between detective and criminal all the way through. There is a fantastic twist to the story at the end but I wouldn't be cruel enough to give that part away. An easily read book, that absorbes the reader. If you can put it down, tell me how as I could't. I would recommend a free weekend, unplug the telephone and tell your friends you've left the country as once you have started to read The bone collector you'll not want to stop. A must for thriller lovers.

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                  31.07.2001 03:11
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                  I find thrillers really annoying sometimes as I'm tempted to cut through the crap and read the last page to find out who did it. How glad am I that this time I didn't. I was glued to my bed/chair/garden bench reading this book and my only regret is that I've finished the book. The main character is Lincoln Rhyme who is a tetraplegic which means he has no movement below his neck and a slight twitch on one finger. He is fighting an inner battle as to whether or not to end his own life when a seemingly unsolvable crime occurs in New York and as a retired criminologist he is asked to help out. The plot has more twists and turns then even I imagined and there is even a love interest which opens your mind to the needs of those in a wheelchair to be 'normal' when it comes to love and sex. The only criticism of the book would be the detail that he includes, such as real acene setting stuff, which sometimes bombards the mind with so much information I had to take a break and go back to it a few minutes later.However the book is all the better for it but it meant I couldn't rush the book! As the title suggests the suspect collects bones, stripping them in acid before sandpapering them to a smooth finish.... The best part is that in some desperate attempt to be discovered the killer leaves clues at each crime scene as to what he will be doing next. In a race against time the team try to unravel clues to save the next potential victim, and in one particular scene I actually found myself holding my breath as I read! It was also fascinating because of the detail as to what clues can now, with new technology, be gathered at a crime scene. Did you know that collecting hair is no good for DNA unless you have the root as well which holds all the information - well I found it interesting!! All in all this is a book I've been meaning to read for a while and I'm glad I used some
                  of my Amazon vouchers from Dooyoo to buy it. There is a great twist at the end which I really didn't see coming. This is one of those books I will be keeping to read again!!

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                  07.02.2001 22:28
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                  This was the first book I read by Deaver, and what an introduction. A few weeks on from reading it, I can still remember the sheer level of shock that this author induces when describing the mutilations which occur in the Bone Collector. The main character, Lincoln Rhyme, is a cripple with a brilliant ability in crime scenes. He is enlisted to solve the case of a sick killer/torturer. This at a time when he is in a grave personal state, which adds extra edge to the plot. Deaver delves into the mind of Rhyme, and really shows the internal fight which a cripple suffers daily. Rhyme is joined but an intelligent female cop, who finds herself in the wrong place at the right time!She helps Rhyme in the case, as they chase the killer's crimes, always seeming one step behind. The killer seems to have a fascination with bones. And how he treats the victims bones is the real sickening factor! Maybe I'm a wimp, but I wasn't looking forward to each next act of debauchery. Except your morbid curiosity keeps you reading. There's a real insight into criminology in The Bone Collector, which I found initially hard to adjust to, but which soon had me reading this non-stop. Rhyme and his helpers are good, and amaze with how they keep on the trail. But Deaver leaves you wondering how they'll get him right through. I love this book. At first i thought the author was trying for shock value too much, but as the plot unfolds, it's a real thriller.

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                • Product Details

                  New York is in the middle of a huge UN conference when it is thrown into chaos by the assaults of the Bone Collector, a serial kidnapper and killer who gives the police a chance to save his victims by leaving obscure clues. Lincoln Rhyme, an ex-NYPD forensics expert, is assigned to the case.