Book Review

Matthew D. Carlson

Whatever you do, keep the lights on! Jeffery Deaver, author of “The Bone Collector,” is back with an all-new Lincoln Rhyme novel. “The Coffin Dancer” is the second novel featuring the character Lincoln Rhyme – the first was “The Bone Collector.” Rhyme, a former crime scene investigator, was forced to end his career after an accident left him a quadriplegic. With his excellent mind still intact, Rhyme has become a consultant with the New York police department. He must stop a killer who can become anyone. He has recruited a partner, Amelia Sachs, to go to the crime scenes and search for clues. Sachs, a former model turned cop, has the unique ability to get inside the head of criminals and see what they see – a trick she learned from Rhyme. She must use her abilities to track a killer known only as the Coffin Dancer. The Coffin Dancer is a hit man for hire. He can take out a target with a rifle on a rooftop, or with a hunting knife in hand to hand combat. No witness has ever lived long enough to identify him. Likewise, he makes no contact with the people who hire him, ensuring that he will not be double-crossed. The Dancer, as the cops refer to him, is quite intelligent. Once, to avoid leaving fingerprints, he cut the skin off a victim’s hands and wore the skin like gloves. The Dancer has been hired to kill three people who were witnesses to a cover-up. The book begins with the first victim’s death. Then the story picks up with the police trying not only to protect the other two targets, but also catch the killer. Three forces are at play in the case. Lincoln Rhyme has dealt with the Coffin Dancer before, but was unable to catch him. Thus, the case has become very personal. The NYPD wishes to protect the targets from the killer. Their hope is to apprehend the criminal dead or alive. The third party is the District Attorney’s office. They want to use the Coffin Dancer and the witnesses to testify against Phillip Hansen, a crooked businessman involved with the cover-up. Deaver does an excellent job telling this story. He uses a unique perspective that lets the reader know not only what the cops are thinking and planning, but also what the killer is doing. There are more twists and turns than a roller coaster. Trying to guess what will happen next is impossible. The last fifty pages are filled with so many surprises that are sure to leave the reader frozen with shock. “The Coffin Dancer” is part of a series. Some of the characters’ personality traits that were mentioned in “The Bone Collector” are left unexplained in this book. The reader will not find this at all hindering to the plot. Deaver gives enough information to explain certain behaviors. Some references are made to the first book, but not too many. In no way is it necessary to read “The Bone Collector” before “The Coffin Dancer.” The only major character change is in Lincoln Rhyme. In the first novel Rhyme wishes to have his life terminated through assisted suicide. This subject never comes up in the second novel because of his new take on life. Many people recognize that “The Bone Collector” was a recent movie starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. However, as in most cases, some changes occurred when taking a book to the silver screen. There are two significant things the reader should know before reading these books. In the movie, Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Washington) is a relatively nice person. In the book, Rhyme is a stubborn and irritating man at times. The second is that the movie changed the name Amelia Sachs to Amelia Donaghy. Jeffery Deaver has mastered the suspense novel. His knowledge of the judicial system, and crime scene investigating makes his books believable. “The Coffin Dancer” is an extraordinarily written book. Deaver will shock and amaze the reader.