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Lincoln Rhyme is New York City’s best Criminalist, who has helped solve some of the most perplexing crimes that have been committed in the city.  He is also a quadraplegic, as the result of an accident at a crime scene, three years before; and has decided to kill himself.  But then the Police need his help.  Someone is committing brutal and seemingly random attacks in the city, and the only person who can solve the clues left behind is Rhyme.  However, Rhyme can’t walk the crime scenes himself, so he needs somebody to do it for him.  Amelia Sachs is working her last shift as a Patrol Officer, before she transfers into Public Affairs. But the scene she stumbles across in the morning, leads her head-first into a new investigation, where she finds herself being the eyes and ears of Lincoln Rhyme…

This is the first novel in the Lincoln Rhyme series, and I felt that it did a great job of introducing the two main characters, Rhyme and Sachs.  The story itself had a lot of twists and turns, and there were some genuine surprises along the way.  I was never able to second guess what was going to happen, and the action moved along at a fast pace, making me want to keep reading.

As well as the main storyline, about Rhyme and his hastily assembled team trying to solve the case, the relationship between Rhyme and Sachs is explored, and as a result, I felt that I got to know the two characters well.

The other characters weren’t so well developed (with the exception of Rhyme’s aide Thom, who I adored), but that did not detract from the enjoyment of the book.  As this is the first in a series, there is presumably plenty of time to get to know the others.

I did feel that at times, the storyline about the kidnappings stretched credibility somewhat.  Rhyme is certainly supposed to be brilliant, but on occasions he seemed able to deduce something very specific from the vaguest of clues.  This is the course the character’s job, but it did feel slight unbelieveable.  However, there was enough excitement and intrigue in this book for me to forgive that minor niggle.

Overall, this is a cut above a lot of other crime based novels, and is very cleverly written.  (it’s very evident that Deaver has done his research with regards to forensic work and equipment).  A highly recommended read.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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Gabriel Swift lives in London in the 1820s, receiving tutorship from renowned Anatomist Edwin Poll.  Much of his job involves cleaning cadavers delivered from grave robbers, known as resurrectionists.  Edwin Poll then dissects the cadavers and teaches his students how they died, in order that they can learn his trade.  While there, Gabriel makes friends, especially Charles – Mr Poll’s colleague, and Robert, a fellow student (or ‘prentice’ as they are known). However, due to the nature of the work, there are also a number of shady characters involved in this lifestyle – not least, Mr Tyne, who also lives in the same house as Gabriel, and Lucan – Mr Poll’s nemesis and the infamous leader of a gang of resurrectionists.

Gabriel finds himself drawn into both the worlds of his colleagues and friends, and that of Lucan, and when he makes an enemy of Mr Tyne and alienates those who may help him, it is to Lucan who he somewhat reluctantly turns. From there, he becomes involved with some much darker and more dangerous characters, and his life becomes unstable.

I’m not sure what to make of this book.  I have read various negative reviews, but I actually did enjoy it.  Told from Gabriel’s point of view, I felt that we did get real insight into his character, and in particular his sense of isolation from those around him.  The chapters are generally very short (usually about three pages), and it makes for an interesting read.  I loved the middle part of the story, where Gabriel becomes involved with Lucan’s ‘work’ – there was a genuine atmospheric gloom pervading the narration, and there are several Dickensian villains, who made for some interesting reading.  It was during that point where I kept wanting to read “just a few more pages,” to see what happened.

The first part of the book was enjoyable, but I felt that there were too many unnecessary characters.  A number of Charles’s friends get involved in the story, and I felt that their part in the story would have been better if it had either been expanded upon to make them more rounded characters, or cut out completely – there was not much character development for them, and they served as a vehicle to move certain sections of the story forward.  I also found that Gabriel’s romance with Arabella, a local prostitute, added little to the story, although it did serve to heighten his disillusionment with his life and surroundings.

The final part of the story moves in a completely direction, and tells what happens 10 years after the events described in the first parts.  I liked the idea of this conclusion of sorts (although I’m not giving away any secrets), but the pace did slow down in this section and was not as compelling reading as the novel had been up until then.  This part would have been better as a short epilogue.

Some of the descriptions of the cadavers and the work of Mr Poll is described in great detail, and this may not appeal to more squeamish readers (although it did not bother me).

Overall, despite the criticism, I did enjoy this book.  The events moved along at a quick enough pace to hook me into Gabriel’s story.  I would certainly consider reading more by this author.

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Set in Philadelphia, construction worker Sean, whose main interests in life are drinking with his friend Jason and flirting with women, finds himself caught up in a nightmare, when a serial killer starts terrorising people who Sean and Jason went to school with. Sean decides that he has to find and stop the killer before more lives – possibly including those of Sean and Jason – are lost. Initially, Jason agrees to accompany him, but events take their toll on him, and Sean finds himself largely alone.  As he finds himself drawing closer to the truth, he can only hope that he will get there before the killer gets to him…

I have mixed feelings about this book.  On the positive side, the storyline is interesting and fast paced enough to keep the reader from losing interest.  I was also wrong-footed on both of my guesses about who was committing the murders, and I always like to be surprised.  I also liked the fact that Sean was not a stereotypical hero – he seemed to drink probably much too much, could be dismissive of others, and showed little respect for authority at times.  I find this more believeable than having a ‘picture perfect’ hero, who could do no wrong.

However, at times I did have to suspend my disbelief.  Sean seemed to figure out the connection between the victims pretty quickly, while the Police were still struggling to make the obvious connection.  I found it difficult to believe that it wouldn’t have been one of the first things they had realised.  There was also one particular part of the storyline which seemed far too convenient and unlikely, which spoiled my enjoyment somewhat.

My main quibble with the book though, was the lack of grammar and good spelling. However, I should point out that the copy I was reading may have been an unedited proof, which might explain this.  Nonetheless, it did make it difficult reading at times – and one character’s name changed completely during the course of the story!

In short, I definitely think that there is an interesting story here, but it would benefit from a strong edit.

(I would like to thank the author for sending me this book to review.  Ben Gibbins’ website can be found here.)

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