Review: The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver
Published 24/07/2010 | 05:00
New York is under siege. The first explosion reduces a city bus to a shrapnel-riddled wreck and city officials immediately fear a terrorist attack. The weapon that destroyed the bus, and which will be used again and again over the next few days in a series of attacks, is invisible yet omnipresent.
Without it, modern society grinds to a halt. It is electricity, and the killers are skilled enough to harness and steer huge arc-flashes -- with voltage so high and heat so searing -- that steel melts and human beings are set on fire where they stand.
The first man the authorities approach for help is the world-famous forensic criminologist Lincoln Rhyme. Rhyme is a long-time paraplegic who uses NYPD detective Amelia Sachs and officer Ron Pulaski as his eyes, ears and, most importantly, legs on crime scenes. Rhyme immediately drafts in FBI agent Fred Dellray as his undercover man on the street.
But Rhyme's team are short of clues and Dellray's group of snitches that he has used for years are coming up empty-handed with any solid information. The case seems to be going nowhere, as the attacks continue and the tension is ratcheted up with the sudden appearance of terrifying demand letters from the attackers.
As the crippled criminologist desperately tries to engineer a break in the case, a second emergency demands his attention. The hired assassin, known as the Watchmaker, one of the few criminals to have eluded Rhyme's net, surfaces in Mexico.
The pressure of simultaneously running two complicated cases threatens the paraplegic's fragile health and his physical collapse puts his lover Amelia in danger.
Jeffery Deaver has written more than 20 best-selling thrillers and won just about every award. This is the seventh Rhyme/Sachs adventure, each characterised by detailed research that illuminates subjects as varied as the archaeology of New York to the, surprisingly interesting, life cycle of maggots.
In The Burning Wire, Deaver effortlessly imparts to the reader his fascination with electricity, how it works, how it is transmitted and how dependent we are on it, dangerous and lethal as it can be.
A top summer read from the man lined up, by the Ian Fleming estate, to write the new James Bond novel due next year.