Wednesday, 29 December 2010

"The Burning Wire," by Jeffery Deaver

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Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

I've just realised that it has been quite a long time since I wrote one of these. I apologise for being a rubbish blogger.

That doesn't mean that I haven't been reading - I've mentioned some on Twitter (the Gyles Brandreth Oscar Wilde mysteries). I broke my rule and didn't write on a couple of books, because I enjoyed them so much that I wanted to give them as Christmas presents to friends, and I didn't want to risk giving much away ("The Twisted Heart," by Rebecca Gowers and "Shades of Grey," by Jasper Fforde).

So I have come back to blogging with "The Burning Wire," a Lincoln Rhyme mystery by Jeffery Deaver. I have enjoyed his previous Lincoln Rhyme books, although I still think that "The Bone Collector" is the strongest (which stuck with me to the extent that it made me unwilling to go in a cab in New York). I also went to a talk and book signing by him a few years ago with a friend, let's call her Emma, who is also a fan. He came across as a thoroughly nice bloke with a healthy sense of humour (for someone who writes about gruesome murders), who worried about leaving his dogs when away from home.

In "The Burning Wire," Rhyme tries to balance two cases; a long distance case involving an old adversary, the Watchmaker, and a new case in New York involving a "perp" who uses electricity as a murder weapon. The forensic detail of Jeffery Deaver's novels is phenomenal, but never to the extent that it slows down the pace of the narrative, or detracts from the characterisation. This was a strong entry to the Lincoln Rhyme canon with effective twists. which engaged me and kept me wanting to read on.

There were two things that this book made me think about:
1. (mild spoiler) In the middle of the book, Lincoln has an attack of dysreflexia (related to his paralysis, which can put him at risk of suffering a stroke or could be fatal). He recovers. But this made me think about how much more interesting and brave the book would have been if he hadn't. It would take a lot of bravery and nerve for a writer to kill off his main detective mid-book, and perhaps the case could then have been closed by Amelia Sachs. It would be a shock to the reader - although I can imagine that reviewers might give it away. I'd also be impressed in the same way if Doctor Who managed to pull off a completely surprise regeneration, without any press awareness of the event (it would be a very brave thing to do although, in the current media climate, pretty much impossible).
2. Jeffery Deaver must do a hell of a lot of research about forensic science, and must now be very knowledgeable about this in his own right. Maybe he should do an Arthur Conan Doyle and turn to crime solving himself?!