Review

The Stone Monkey: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel

by Jeffery Deaver

Let's cut right to the chase here: there are few literary
pleasures that even remotely approach the pleasure of cracking the
binding of a new Jeffery Deaver novel. Notice I say "literary"
(Clemenceau's famous bawdy observation about walking up the stairs
remains unchallenged), but even at that, a newly commenced work by
Deaver is an addictive experience that results in the reader
focusing entirely on the printed page and a predictable response
from those around him (along the lines of "Can't you put that book
down for even a minute?!"). If you've read Deaver before,
particularly his works involving the physically limited but
mentally unfettered Lincoln Rhyme, you know what I mean. If you're
just beginning your introduction to Deaver's world with THE STONE
MONKEY, then be forewarned: clear the decks. You're not going
anywhere or doing anything else for a while.

One of the more enjoyable aspects of THE STONE MONKEY, as with many
of Deaver's novels, is his meticulous research into a particular
area, which he then presents within the context of a gripping,
suspenseful mystery. The backdrop of THE STONE MONKEY is the
illegal immigration of political dissidents from Red China,
interspersed with aspects of Chinese culture. This in and of itself
is a daunting task. The Chinese culture is so rich, so complex, so
fascinating, that the question of where --- how --- one stops their
examination and begins the story at hand is enough to leave the
ordinary writer quaking at the thought. Deaver meets the question
head on and deftly wrestles it to the ground. He gives the reader
enough of a fascinating glimpse to pique their interest and to set
up, and supplement, his tale. One can, after finishing THE STONE
MONKEY, seek out treatises on Chinese medicine, ancestor worship,
or Taoism, which are only a few of the topics touched upon
within.

Ah, but let's not forget the story! THE STONE MONKEY opens aboard
The Fuzhou Dragon, which is carrying two dozen illegal
immigrants to a hopeful new beginning in the United States. The
villain of the piece is The Ghost, a shadowy, mysterious figure
known as a "snakehead," or smuggler, of illegal immigrants, whom he
regards derisively, contemptuously, as "piglets." As The Fuzhou
Dragon
is being pursued by the U.S. Coast Guard, The Ghost
seals his human cargo below the deck and blows up the ship while he
escapes. Miraculously, a handful of the illegal immigrants survive
and make it into New York City, with The Ghost in pursuit. Lincoln
Rhyme, feeling driven to capture the man responsible for the wanton
deaths of so many, sends his partner Amelia Sachs out to do the
physical work that he is unable to do --- work that, unbeknownst to
either of them, is placing her in terrible danger. For The Ghost is
literally, unbelievably (yet believably so) among them, in their
very midst, and using their talents of detection and deduction to
locate the immigrants for him. Deaver, along the way, uses sleight
of hand and gentle misdirection to startle the reader at regular
intervals. Never assume anything while reading a Deaver book. He
always (well, almost always) plays fair while giving away nothing.
The effect leaves the reader with a gluttonous appetite: one is
full, satiated after reading THE STONE MONKEY; yet, one wants more.
A new Deaver novel next week would not be too soon. 

THE STONE MONKEY will be most welcome to Deaver's legion of veteran
fans and will undoubtedly contribute to the wave of new readers
that, with each new release, have contributed to the exponential
swelling of his readership base. If THE STONE MONKEY is your first
Deaver, make some room on the bookshelf. You'll be adding
more.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

The Stone Monkey: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel
by Jeffery Deaver

  • Publication Date: February 1, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket
  • ISBN-10: 0743437802
  • ISBN-13: 9780743437806