My last (and first) encounter with Jeffrey Deaver was back in March when I reviewed The Broken Window and was less than satisfied with this a-list thriller author. The Kill Room was a different experience.
The search for the killer and his method is exciting and intellectually challenging throughout, and quadriplegic sleuth Lincoln Rhyme runs into plenty of dead ends. There’s a also an interesting subplot involving Rhyme’s search for a partial recovery from his paralysis as well as assistant Amelia’s battle with arthritis and the question of her fitness for the arduous physical activity she’s accustomed to and that’s been essential to past investigations. All this, plus drones and all the ethical issues around killing U.S. citizens on foreign soil. Quite a package.
Deaver engages in what I consider manipulative and dishonest plotting. Many other successful authors do this, so who am I to complain? On the other hand, who do I have to be. Here’s the thing:
No one is more meticulous than the Rhyme team. They have a white board filled with clues. Deaver periodically lists them in detail (frankly, I got so I just turn the page, but I know other readers must like them.) At one point in the investigation, the team is fed a big-time clue. They give it a look over, then it just disappears. Completely uncharacteristic. the reader (at least this one) wonders where it went, but they’ve dropped it. Finally, when it appears everything has been solved, we get a coda. Suddenly the clue that had been dropped, lost and forgotten becomes super-important. It’s not because the Rhyme team dropped it, but (as far as I can tell) it was convenient for Deaver to drop it until the coda. Thus, he goes against the expertise of the team he’s taken such trouble to develop and manipulates the reader into believing it doesn’t matter, even though it’s the only thing on the long list unaccounted for in the almost-final solution. So, a good book tainted. GRRR.