Categorized | Features

The Skin Collector, by Jeffrey Deaver 2014

HERB JOHNSON – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
Many popular authors have a one column list of previous novels right there on the first page, just to make sure the reader knows how good they are. Deaver’s list is two columns. He’s that good. And prolific.
And he’s getting better with age. This is one of his Lincoln Rhyme novels, featuring the quadraplegic former detective, now an NYPD consultant, and his sidekick Amelia Sachs. This time out they are after a tattoo artist who drags his victims into a handy tunnel and tattoos cryptic messages on their bellies . . . with poison ink. Lurking on the periphery of the action is Rhyme’s old nemesis, the Watchmaker. Watch out for the Watchmaker. He is devious.
Deaver is quite devious himself. What starts out looking like a fairly simple case of some weird psycho serial killer working entirely in underground settings gradually twists and turns its way into a wide-ranging plot involving well-organized fairly crazy people. Maybe not actually crazy; just fed up with the American way of life and determined to take drastic action to change just about everything.
Deaver, besides being a master of the complex plot, is also a determined researcher. He might have a subservient minion doing it for him, but whoever is doing it, his books are often filled with factual information related to one of the main characters. Since the bad guy is a tattoo artist, we learn everything we ever wanted to know about how to draw pictures on people with ink that doesn’t wear off. Maybe more than we wanted to know.
A brief plot outline is difficult. There are several killings, using poison ink. There are several near misses when the good guys swoop in at the last minute. The bad guy does a lot of lurking, except that maybe he isn’t actually who he says he is. Maybe he is, but maybe there are two of him.
The good guys are more dependable, acting like they usually do. One bright spot is that Amelia’s chronic arthritis has been cured. A dark spot is that one of the NYPD detectives is poisoned and in a coma.
Good reading. Deaver, with his two columns of published novels, has done it again.

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