Review

The Bone Collector

by Jeffery Deaver

Jeffery Deaver is one of those rare beings, a writer who gets better with each book. To read with care through his most recent thrillers --- PRAYING FOR SLEEP, A MAIDEN'S GRAVE, and now THE BONE COLLECTOR --- can be both entertaining and an excellent lesson in how to write for this particular market, and yet still craft the writing at a highly skilled level.

Do not be fooled by the lurid subject matter (a particularly nasty serial killer) of THE BONE COLLECTOR into thinking this is just another serial killer novel, or indeed just another anything. Yet it is the epitome of popular fiction, in that this novel has "high concept" written all over it.

There is enough forensic detection to out-Cornwell Patricia, plus an appendix of forensic terms in the back that would be useful in itself (especially to another writer --- thanks, Jeff!). And there is the ever-popular graphic violence, which manages to skirt the edge of the gratuitous without falling into the bloody and carcass-strewn abyss. There is a compelling male protagonist with a seemingly insurmountable problem --- he's a quadriplegic. There is a beautiful woman both tough and vulnerable --- really. There is a love vs. death theme that is not resolved until the very end of the book --- and no, in this review you won't find out how. There's a bit of historical New York stuff thrown in just for good measure, historical stuff being kind of hot right now.

And, as if all this were not enough, by the end of the book, the reader has become so attached to the two protagonists that THE BONE COLLECTOR simply must be the beginning of a series. We want, one might even say passionately, these two to go on to more adventures; not only that, but we want to read them, every single one.

To be able to pull all this off and still write great sentences and coherent paragraphs, following an intricate, suspense-filled plot, in prose sprinkled about with good bits of description, is nothing short of incredible.  

Now about that plot: Lincoln Rhyme is a criminalist, a law enforcement specialist in forensics who works crime scenes. In the course of duty he suffered (boy, is that the right choice of words) an SCI, which is Medicalese for spinal cord injury, leaving him able to move only his neck and head, plus one finger. Early on in the book Rhyme is understandably considering taking his own life by assisted suicide, and this theme runs throughout the narrative.  

Enter the killer and the crimes, which are so intricate and horrible that Lincoln Rhyme is called back onto duty by a high-ranking police officer to run forensics on the death --- which soon turns into more deaths, and a race against time. Oh yes, there's also a bomb threat to the U.N. Building running concurrent with the serial killings.

Now how can Rhyme, who is confined to a special bed, without use of his hands and feet and legs, possibly do forensics? Easy. He picks the young officer who, in spite of opposition from higher-ups, had enough sense to close off the first crime scene... and she just happens to be (you guessed it) beautiful, tough, and vulnerable. Her name is Amelia Sachs; she becomes his eyes, his ears, his hands, his feet, his all.  

And if you ever doubted that sex is most if not all in the head, well then, you gotta read this book. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs will convince you otherwise, unless you have a heart of stone.

Jeffery Deaver said, exclusive for The Book Report (in an email to this reviewer, how else?): "I always put myself in the role of my characters --- male or female, white, black, young, old --- and it was a harrowing experience to try to imagine what life as a quadriplegic would be like....I think he is probably my most interesting, yet disturbing, character to create." Amen to that! Nevertheless, all the characters are interesting, and fully drawn.

Are you convinced yet that you must read this book? Do it soon, so you won't have to decide whether you should read the book first or see the movie first...a truly agonizing decision that we at TBR would like to spare you. Yes, THE BONE COLLECTOR is soon to be a film from Universal Pictures. Jeffery Deaver has arrived, he's hit the big time now, and it couldn't happen to a better writer.

Jeffery Deaver is one of those rare beings, a writer who gets better with each book. To read with care through his most recent thrillers --- PRAYING FOR SLEEP, A MAIDEN'S GRAVE, and now THE BONE COLLECTOR --- can be both entertaining and an excellent lesson in how to write for this particular market, and yet still craft the writing at a highly skilled level.

Do not be fooled by the lurid subject matter (a particularly nasty serial killer) of THE BONE COLLECTOR into thinking this is just another serial killer novel, or indeed just another anything. Yet it is the epitome of popular fiction, in that this novel has "high concept" written all over it.

There is enough forensic detection to out-Cornwell Patricia, plus an appendix of forensic terms in the back that would be useful in itself (especially to another writer --- thanks, Jeff!). And there is the ever-popular graphic violence, which manages to skirt the edge of the gratuitous without falling into the bloody and carcass-strewn abyss. There is a compelling male protagonist with a seemingly insurmountable problem --- he's a quadriplegic. There is a beautiful woman both tough and vulnerable --- really. There is a love vs. death theme that is not resolved until the very end of the book --- and no, in this review you won't find out how. There's a bit of historical New York stuff thrown in just for good measure, historical stuff being kind of hot right now.

And, as if all this were not enough, by the end of the book, the reader has become so attached to the two protagonists that THE BONE COLLECTOR simply must be the beginning of a series. We want, one might even say passionately, these two to go on to more adventures; not only that, but we want to read them, every single one.

To be able to pull all this off and still write great sentences and coherent paragraphs, following an intricate, suspense-filled plot, in prose sprinkled about with good bits of description, is nothing short of incredible.  

Now about that plot: Lincoln Rhyme is a criminalist, a law enforcement specialist in forensics who works crime scenes. In the course of duty he suffered (boy, is that the right choice of words) an SCI, which is Medicalese for spinal cord injury, leaving him able to move only his neck and head, plus one finger. Early on in the book Rhyme is understandably considering taking his own life by assisted suicide, and this theme runs throughout the narrative.  

Enter the killer and the crimes, which are so intricate and horrible that Lincoln Rhyme is called back onto duty by a high-ranking police officer to run forensics on the death --- which soon turns into more deaths, and a race against time. Oh yes, there's also a bomb threat to the U.N. Building running concurrent with the serial killings.

Now how can Rhyme, who is confined to a special bed, without use of his hands and feet and legs, possibly do forensics? Easy. He picks the young officer who, in spite of opposition from higher-ups, had enough sense to close off the first crime scene... and she just happens to be (you guessed it) beautiful, tough, and vulnerable. Her name is Amelia Sachs; she becomes his eyes, his ears, his hands, his feet, his all.  

And if you ever doubted that sex is most if not all in the head, well then, you gotta read this book. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs will convince you otherwise, unless you have a heart of stone.

Jeffery Deaver said, exclusive for The Book Report (in an email to this reviewer, how else?): "I always put myself in the role of my characters --- male or female, white, black, young, old --- and it was a harrowing experience to try to imagine what life as a quadriplegic would be like....I think he is probably my most interesting, yet disturbing, character to create." Amen to that! Nevertheless, all the characters are interesting, and fully drawn.

Are you convinced yet that you must read this book? Do it soon, so you won't have to decide whether you should read the book first or see the movie first...a truly agonizing decision that we at TBR would like to spare you. Yes, THE BONE COLLECTOR is soon to be a film from Universal Pictures. Jeffery Deaver has arrived, he's hit the big time now, and it couldn't happen to a better writer.

Reviewed by on April 1, 1998

The Bone Collector
by Jeffery Deaver

  • Publication Date: April 1, 1998
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Signet
  • ISBN-10: 0451188454
  • ISBN-13: 9780451188458