Review

The Burning Wire: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel

by Jeffery Deaver

THE BURNING WIRE is Jeffery Deaver’s latest Lincoln Rhyme
novel. Do I really need to tell you anything more? Should
I tell you anything more? Deaver presents the perfect conundrum for
a reviewer: How does one give a reader anything but the most
superficial summary of what takes place without giving everything
away? Revealing one twist, one turn, one surprise leads to other
revelations. How can I tell you one thing without spoiling
everything? Let me try.

As one might guess from the title, THE BURNING WIRE deals with
electricity. Those of us who have made it to adulthood have done
so, in part, because we were taught not to stick things like
fingers or keys into light sockets, exercise care with electricity
around water, avoid live wires, etc. Who among us has not cringed
during the bathtub scene in the video for “It’s My
Life” by No Doubt? Electricity is our ultimate frenemy. It is
deadly, yet anyone who has experienced a power failure of more than
an hour or so knows how much we rely on it.

This is the theme of Deaver’s latest, wherein a fiend
attempts to hold the City of New York hostage by taking control of
the highly charged force. His program is simple in its plan and
deadly in its execution. He demands that power be cut to a certain
area; if it’s not, then he creates a deadly arc flash hot
enough to melt steel and set people afire. By the way, these scenes
are not for the squeamish; if while reading THE BURNING WIRE you
don’t consider, at least momentarily, trading kilowatts for
candlepower, then you’re not paying attention.

One of the trademarks of Deaver’s work, whether it be a
Rhyme novel or otherwise, is his penchant for taking a familiar
subject and exploring it at a fascinating depth heretofore unknown
by the majority of the readership. This he does once again in THE
BURNING WIRE. Yes, you might consider reading by candles when you
learn how electricity is used to malevolent intent. But you also
will come to appreciate the production and distribution of
electricity as it is presented from the viewpoint of the executives
and workers of Algonquin Consolidated Power and Light, the company
that supplies New York and beyond with the power that it needs and
demands. And you get two for the price of one here.

While involved in the local investigation, Rhyme and Amelia
Sachs, his professional and personal partner, provide some
long-distance assistance to Kathryn Dance, a CBI investigator who
crosses over from her own series of novels. One of Rhyme’s
deadliest adversaries, The Watchmaker, has been sighted in Mexico
City. Dance, working with a Mexico City law enforcement officer
on-site and with Rhyme and Sachs in New York, is on the verge of
making the arrest of her career. The Watchmaker's capture will put
to rest one of Rhyme’s most frustrating cases. As the Mexican
police invade one of their nation's most dangerous neighborhoods,
Rhyme and his team draw ever closer to the man who is on the verge
of bringing New York to its knees. And then the unthinkable and
unexpected happens.

One cannot read a Lincoln Rhyme novel without appreciating
one’s ability to put both feet to the ground each day, every
day. Rhyme, a world-class forensic criminologist who possesses as
brilliant a mind as one will find in detective fiction, is
physically limited to the use of his fingers and hand as a result
of a spinal cord injury that brings with it potentially fatal
conditions of other sorts that one not so afflicted would hardly
expect. Sachs handles the on-site investigative legwork with a
first-rate team, the members of whom we come to know intimately
over the course of the narrative. There is also the ever-present,
ever-dedicated Thom, Rhyme’s caregiver, who is perhaps the
most quietly effective of all. Whatever Thom is being paid,
it’s not enough. He remains a quiet but omnipresent figure
throughout, and his role takes on a new meaning in this
installment.

In addition to the regular cast, Deaver introduces a character
who is only present for a couple of pages but who indirectly
changes one element of the entire series forever. And if that
isn’t enough for you, within the course of just a few pages,
Deaver dissects, draws and quarters what is arguably one of the
largest hoaxes of this, and the last, millennium. You cannot ask
for any more, or any better, than that.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 26, 2010

The Burning Wire: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel
by Jeffery Deaver

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1439156336
  • ISBN-13: 9781439156339