What started out as a normal day for Morgynn, a nine-year-old girl living with her mother on the upper east side of Manhattan quickly turned dark when she became the sole witness to a kidnapping.
Robert Ellis, a businessman, was snatched off the streets by another man, who dumped Ellis in the trunk of his car and drove away. Morgynn wasn’t just a witness, though, she also found the first clue–a small hangman’s noose left at the very spot Ellis was taken from.
While Amelia Sachs was originally summoned to take a crack at the case, the veteran NYPD detective was unreachable, paving the way for her fiancé, forensic expert Lincoln Rhymes, to investigate.
Initially, Rhymes theorizes that the kidnapping could have been a business deal gone wrong or, perhaps, even a kidnap-for-ransom type of scenario. However, those theories are tossed out the window when word travels from Italy that another person was kidnapped near Naples, and another small noose left at the scene.
Heading to Italy, Rhymes and Sachs team up with the Italians’ investigation, which is led by a prosecutor named Dante Spiro, who clashes with several other investigators. Eventually, it’s revealed that the kidnapper is actually a serial killer who calls himself the Composer due to his odd method of recording his victims and then combining their last breaths into music–creating evil, creepy “songs.”
It’s also revealed that the second victim is a Libyan refugee, which kicks off the overly-political portion of Deaver’s latest novel. Unlike last year’s Steel Kiss, which fell a little flat after a strong start, The Burial Hour never finds its footing, stumbling right out of the gate. Not only is the plot improbable and far-fetched, but readers looking for entertainment will not appreciate being preached to on the author’s viewpoint regarding refugees and how he believes the situation should be handled.
While it’s typical for authors to interject their opinions into their novels, most of the time it’s done so in a way that comes secondary to the story itself (Daniel Silva mastered this tactic with The Black Widow), which is not the case here. Instead, this politically-charged plot, which does receive a point or two for being timely, will leave readers desiring more–much more.
There is a side story that involves Rhymes being asked to look into an American’s case by the State Department. Apparently, a college student visiting Naples has been accused of sexual assault and the people at State want him extradited back to America. Frankly, this plot line is more entertaining than the main course.
Where Deaver does do a good job, as he’s always done, is when he lays out the extensive forensic evidence and protocols for collecting the evidence and analyzing a crime scene. Think CSI on steroids, but he makes the process itself fascinating. Few, if any, are in his league when it comes to laying out the science behind solving a crime.
A lack of motive for the villain, silly connections, and a plot built on coincidences wrapped in a preachy political message contribute to Jeffery Deaver’s latest novel falling short of expectations.
Author: Jeffery Deaver
Series: Lincoln Rhyme #13
Pages: 480 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: April 11, 2017 (Order Now)