In his 1997 novel, THE BONE COLLECTOR, Jeffrey Deaver introduced the world to Lincoln Rhyme, a brilliant criminologist whose career was apparently cut short by a horrible, devastating accident which left him a quadriplegic. Rhyme is able to move only his head, shoulders, and the ring finger on his left hand. The accident did not, however, deprive him of his main asset --- his brilliant mind. Rhyme has returned in the paperback edition of THE COFFIN DANCER, a novel which will not only satisfy Deaver's legion of fans but will also swell their ranks.
The Coffin Dancer is a professional killer with whom Lincoln Rhyme is all too familiar. Five years prior to the events in THE COFFIN DANCER, two of Rhyme's forensic technicians were killed at a crime scene by a bomb planted by the Dancer. The only clue to the killer's identity is a one of a kind tattoo on his upper arm: a woman dancing with the Grim Reaper in front of a coffin. When it appears that the Dancer has returned to his trade, Rhyme has the opportunity to track him down. The Dancer's targets? Three executives of a charter flight service who witnessed an event incriminating a stolen weapons dealer. After the Dancer successfully assassinates one witness, the remaining witnesses are placed in protective custody. The body count mounts as the Dancer seeks to terrorize his remaining targets through isolation and elimination. Only Rhyme, with his incomparable mental acuity, his voice-activated, state of the art computer, and his assistants stands between the witnesses and their relentless, unknown assassin, who can --- and will --- strike at any time and without warning.
With THE COFFIN DANCER, Deaver once again achieves the perfect balance between suspense and the indomitability of the human mind and spirit. He additionally pulls no punches in dealing with some of the more delicate issues of quadriplegia, though in a tasteful way which would have been sensationalized, perhaps, by a writer of lesser skill. Deaver also explores the budding relationship between Rhyme and his assistant, Amelia, the foundation of which was created and briefly explored in THE BONE COLLECTOR. At the same time, Deaver keeps his thriller moving while his readers keep turning the pages. And by the way, don't waste your time attempting to deduce the ending of the book. Deaver will leave you surprised and amazed --- and plays fair to boot. Reading THE COFFIN DANCER will leave the reader wanting more of Jeffrey Deaver --- and Lincoln Rhyme.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 1, 1999