The grand master of plot twists, Jeffery Deaver deals out almost
more than it seems would be possible to cram into a story just 395
pages long. And rest assured, not one of those pages is a
A 16-year-old Harlem girl is the target of a vicious killer.
Thompson Boyd's methods make him highly successful --- and highly
lethal. Play it by the book, his father taught him, a lesson Boyd
learned well. But what does a skilled hit man want with a teenage
African-American student? What possible motive could there be?
Geneva Settle is a hardworking, nose-to-the-grindstone kind of kid.
Maybe she's not so popular at Langston Hughes High, but that isn't
grounds for killing her.
Fortunately --- for Geneva --- Lincoln Rhyme takes an interest in
her case. He may not have bothered with a mere attempted murder of
a girl were it not for some medical tests that the paralyzed
detective has been working hard to avoid. Whatever his reason, he
assembles his team of investigators and starts organizing the facts
as they come in.
Lincoln Rhyme is almost maddeningly clinical. He focuses on the
forensic evidence, giving little thought to the humanity of the
victim. His shrewd lover, crime scene investigator Amelia Sachs,
seems to understand him and sees beyond Rhyme's gruff exterior,
deep into the heart of the man. Sachs knows a good soul dwells
What might have turned out to be a quick collar becomes a deadly
chase, for Boyd is no ordinary assassin. He feels little more than
determination, a man numb to emotion. He knows his work, how to
scope out his territory, how to anticipate the actions of the
police, and how to manipulate people like puppets to accomplish his
task. Boyd is nothing less than terrifying. And to make matters
worse, he has an equally deadly accomplice. Geneva Settle will have
to be a cat with nine lives to make it through the next 24 hours.
Her only trump card is Rhyme.
Figuring out the motive turns into a prickly problem indeed. Boyd
is not only master of his craft, but ingenious in tossing out false
leads, like a magician with his sleight of hand. At first glance,
it seems that Geneva may have uncovered some information that
someone wishes to remain buried. But she was only researching some
140-year-old family history for a term paper. So maybe that was it.
Or was it?
Boyd and Rhyme, with their individual teams behind them, match wits
like master chess players. One of them has to lose. When that
happens, Geneva's life will take a turn --- for the better or for
the worse --- if she can stay alive.
The one small hitch came with Deaver's attempt at Harlem teen
street talk; occasionally it bogs the dialogue down. But his plot
switchbacks relentlessly push the story ahead. THE TWELFTH CARD is
probably not his best thriller, but absorbing and entertaining
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on June 6, 2011