November 30, 2003

The Stone Monkey, by Jeffrey Deaver

I have a couple of thriller series I keep up with if I happen to see them on the racks at the grocery store. Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpeta series is always good for a gritty, gross read when you just want something light and sort of entertaining. Jeffrey Deaver's Lincoln Ryhme series is another. The kicker with this series is that the forensic detective, Rhyme, is a C4 quad with movement only in the ring finger of his left hand. The premise is that the enforced lack of movement helps him channel his razor-sharp intellect into paths that wouldn’t be obvious to someone distracted with things like, oh, working hands. This, of course, also forces him to have a host of supporting players to help him solve the crimes he can no longer investigate on him own. Prime among all of them is a working CSI, Amelia Sachs, who walks the grid at crime scenes with Rhyme hooked into a cell phone connection as she does it. And there is Thom, his immaculately dressed, gay attendant, taking care of his bodily needs and making sure he doesn’t overdo it in his desire to solve the crime. There are other beat cops and detectives that float in and out but the main action almost always takes place in Rhyme's apartment/forensic lab with all sorts of cool equipment and assistive devices. And it helps that a romance has developed between Rhyme and Sachs which, thankfully, have the physical details of their love life kept off stage.

In this installment, a boat full of fleeing Chinese dissidents is blown up offshore of New York by a well-known smuggler in an effort to avoid capture. Two families, a couple of individuals and the smuggler survive and then mysteriously disappear into the Chinatown neighborhoods of New York. The mystery begins with why he scuttled the boat and evolves into a desperate chase to find the smuggler before he offs the two families. Fortunately, one of the survivors is a Chinese cop who has a charming way with broken English and some investigative methods that are not purely scientific.

I have to admit, I didn’t see the ending coming and was surprised. And the Chinese cop kind of grew on me as the book progressed. I'll probably read the next one when it's out in paperback. It's a light read to curl up with on the couch on a cold November afternoon.

Posted by Deb English at November 30, 2003 09:42 AM