The Burial Hour: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel
I am surprised by the number of folks I encounter who know the movie The Bone Collector but who have not read any or many of the books in Jeffery Deaver’s iconic Lincoln Rhyme series. If you are part of that group, or if you have been away from the series for a bit, THE BURIAL HOUR is a great point for an introduction or a reacquaintance. Deaver, who is a master of surprises, once again delivers an overflowing basketful of them --- enough for two novels, with more to spare --- while hinting at a possible new direction for Rhyme and Amelia Sachs, his partner on and off the crime scene.
Rhyme is familiar enough of a character at this point that the focus of THE BURIAL HOUR, for the most part, is off of his still-considerable physical limitations and on his even more considerable intellect. When an antagonist known as The Composer puts a real-time video of a potential, elaborately staged execution on a social media site, Rhyme is able to effectuate the rescue of the victim in a Jack Bauer nick of time. That is simply the jumping-off point for THE BURIAL HOUR. It is bad enough that The Composer eludes capture; subsequent events demonstrate that he has absconded to Naples, Italy. Rhyme, Sachs and Thom --- Rhyme’s ever-present and always-patient nurse, caregiver and general physical extension --- jet off to assist, delaying once again a long-awaited and much-anticipated event that the loyal readership of this series has been waiting for.
"Deaver, who is a master of surprises, once again delivers an overflowing basketful of them --- enough for two novels, with more to spare --- while hinting at a possible new direction for Rhyme and Amelia Sachs, his partner on and off the crime scene."
Fear not; the arrival of the uninvited and initially unwanted Rhymes and Sachs in Naples is worth the price of admission all by itself, even as the duo manages to insinuate themselves into the minds --- and yes, the hearts --- of the Italian police team and prosecutor tasked with stopping and apprehending The Composer before he carries out a successful execution. The investigation, of course, takes Sachs across the width and breadth of Naples. Deaver demonstrates the end result of his always meticulous research, describing and showing the flora, fauna, food and architecture of Naples without missing a forensic beat as the investigation into The Composer’s activities proceed apace.
The hunt for The Composer would be more than enough to sustain THE BURIAL HOUR, but just to keep things even more interesting, Deaver injects a second investigation that Rhyme and Sachs undertake at the behest of the American Embassy. It develops that an American vacationing in Naples has been accused of date rape, a charge that he vehemently denies. Rhyme and Sachs take that matter under advisement as well, but must do it on the down low, given that the prosecutor handling that case is the same one tasked with apprehending The Composer. The potential for fireworks is enormous, and becomes even more so when Rhyme and Sachs discover what The Composer is really up to...and why. Deaver throws surprises and new plots at the reader almost up to the last page, to the extent that when the book actually ends, complete in itself, it is almost a surprise.
Deaver uses the last few pages to set up a couple of situations that to all appearances will affect the series on a short- and long-term basis. Short term? My guess is that you should expect Rhyme and Sachs to continue doing some globetrotting. Long term? To get the answer to that, read THE BURIAL HOUR all the way to the end. You will want to anyway once you start it.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on April 13, 2017