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The Bone Collector (Lincoln Rhyme Series #1)

The Bone Collector (Lincoln Rhyme Series #1)

4.5 147
by Jeffery Deaver

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Bestselling author Jeffery Deaver's "dazzling"* thriller(*New York Times) now a major motion picture from Universal Studios starring Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, and Queen Latifah

The brilliantly chilling masterpiece by bestselling author Jeffery Deaver--a journey into the minds of two criminal geniuses, one a former forensic specialist


Bestselling author Jeffery Deaver's "dazzling"* thriller(*New York Times) now a major motion picture from Universal Studios starring Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, and Queen Latifah

The brilliantly chilling masterpiece by bestselling author Jeffery Deaver--a journey into the minds of two criminal geniuses, one a former forensic specialist paralyzed in an accident, the other a killer on the loose...

"Stylish, scary, and superb."--Tami Hoag

"Exciting and fast-paced."--Peter Straub

"A breakneck thrill-ride."--Wall Street Journal


* By the national bestselling author of A Maiden's Grave and Praying for Sleep

* Deaver is a two-time Edgar Award nominee

Editorial Reviews


Jeffery Deaver's 1997 thriller The Bone Collector gets a new lease on life, courtesy of a high-profile film adaptation starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. I haven't seen the movie, but I can vouch for the effectiveness of the novel. The Bone Collector isn't, by any stretch, world-class literature, but it's an absorbing, high-energy performance that features great technical expertise, some truly devious plotting, and one of the most unusual heroes in modern crime fiction: Lincoln Rhyme, forensic genius and former head of the NYPD's Central Investigation and Resource Department.

Lincoln Rhyme is a legend in his field, the man who literally wrote the book on forensic analysis of crime scenes. He is also a quadriplegic, his spine having been irreversibly damaged during a cave-in at an underground murder site. As the novel opens, Lincoln has reached the end of his emotional tether and wants only to die. Unable to endure the constraints and humiliations of his new condition, he has enlisted the services of a professional "euthanasist" to help him on his way. At the eleventh hour, with oblivion within his grasp, Lincoln is visited by a pair of detectives who offer him something he can't quite refuse: a new -- and unusual -- case.

On the previous evening, a man and woman returning from a business trip had been kidnapped at JFK airport, apparently by their taxi driver. The man's body -- shot, mutilated, then buried alive -- has just been found by an NYPD patrol officer named Amelia Sachs, who closes off the crime scene and secures the available evidence. Included among that evidence are some enigmatic clues -- a scrap of newsprint, a ball of asbestos, a rusted iron bolt -- that appear to have been placed deliberately at the scene. With the expert assistance of a reluctant Lincoln Rhyme, police follow these clues to the location of the abducted woman. They arrive just minutes too late to save the woman, who has been murdered in a particularly brutal fashion. Near her body is a second series of "staged" forensic clues, pointing to the location of the next unknown victim.

Against his will, Lincoln finds himself at the center of a manhunt that interrupts his planned departure and transforms his apartment into an impromptu forensic lab. Using patrolwoman Amelia Sachs as his eyes and legs, Lincoln engages in a sustained battle of wits with an unknown killer who leads him to a series of crime scenes, each of which is salted with evidence pointing to the next crime scene and the next victim. During the course of this macabre, extended game -- which lasts for about 36 hours and is played out against a backdrop of political infighting and jurisdictional disputes -- Lincoln saves a number of lives, including his own. In the end, he comes face-to-face with an elusive -- and very familiar -- madman whose pathological obsession has its origin in Lincoln's own past.

Although the plot of The Bone Collector occasionally strains credibility, it is still a compelling, cleverly-conceived narrative that achieves moments of great tension and creates something new and vital out of the marriage of two popular subgenres: the serial killer novel, as practiced by Thomas Harris and his numerous imitators; and the forensic crime novel, as practiced by Patricia Cornwell, Ridley Pearson, and Kathy Reichs, to name just a few. Ultimately, it is the range and depth of Deaver's forensic expertise that gives The Bone Collector its peculiar, undeniable fascination.

In crime scene after crime scene, Lincoln -- operating through his observant, mobile assistant, Amelia -- uncovers two distinct types of physical evidence: staged evidence deliberately left behind and other, unintended bits of evidence that lead, in incremental stages, to the killer's home base. Watching Lincoln and his cohorts interpret this evidence -- sometimes intuitively, sometimes with the aid of assorted technological marvels -- is the greatest of The Bone Collector's many pleasures. Like Michael Crichton, Deaver manages to integrate a vast amount of research into a coherent, involving novel without either lecturing the reader or crossing the invisible line into pedantry. It's a difficult trick to perform, and Deaver brings it off with impressive -- and deceptive -- ease.

It will be interesting, of course, to see what Hollywood makes of all this. But even if the movie is an unqualified disaster, readers will still have the Deaver original to return to. Lincoln Rhyme, for all his problems, is an engaging, complex character and may prove to be surprisingly durable. He has already made two return appearances (as the central figure of The Coffin Dancer and as a minor player in The Devil's Teardrop), and I hope Deaver sees fit to revisit him, at least occasionally. Unlike the majority of series heroes, he brings a depth of knowledge and a freshness of perspective to the traditional novel of detection. I look forward to encountering him again.

—Bill Sheehan

Peter Straub
Exciting and fast-paced.
Wall Street Journal
A breakneck thrill-ride.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Deaver (A Maiden's Grave) is too fond of gimmicks. They range in this novel from the extreme (his detective here, Lincoln Rhyme, is a quadriplegic who can move only one finger) to the moderately eccentric (beautiful policewoman Amelia Sachs, who acts as Rhyme's arms and legs, suffers from arthritis). And his villain, a serial killer who models his crimes on ones he finds in a book on criminal life in old New York, has an uncomfortable way of slaying each of his victims in ways guaranteed to stop the heart or turn the stomach: buried alive, flayed by high-pressure steam, eaten by hungry rats, burned alive, attacked by mad dogs. All this takes place in the course of one busy New York weekend as the killer helpfully leaves playful little clues as to where he's going to strike next and Rhyme uses his immense savvy (and a battery of computerized testing tools) to figure it out. The whole affair, in fact, is incredibly silly, though the headlong narrative, with Sachs arriving in the nick of time (driving at 80 mph through New York streets) to perform rescues that seem to belong in a comic strip rather than a novel, never lets up, and there is plenty of genuine forensic knowledge in evidence. There are dramatic switcheroos up to the very last page, and a climactic battle to the death that might make even teenage boys wince. For it seems to be at that kind of readership-uncritical and doting on violence-that the novel is aimed. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; film rights sold to Martin Bregman and Universal Pictures; simultaneous Penguin audio. (Mar.) FYI: An HBO movie of A Maiden's Grave, starring James Garner and Marlee Matlin, will air in January 1997.
Library Journal
The author of The Maiden's Grave (LJ 9/1/95) launches a new series featuring an unusual protagonista paralyzed criminologist who teams up with rookie cop Amelia Sachs to unearth a particularly vicious killer called "the Bone Collector."
Kirkus Reviews
A quadriplegic criminalist hunts the most elusive quarry of his career: a serial killer who leaves clues at each crime scene allowing the cops to head off the next murder—if they can decode them in time.

With nothing left to live for since an accident ended his forensic career and his marriage, bearish Lincoln Rhyme has made an appointment with Dr. William Berger, of the suicide-friendly Lethe Society. But Rhyme's old NYPD colleague, Det. Lon Sellitto, just happens to breeze in, uninvited and unwelcome, minutes before Berger does, and talks Rhyme out of suicide and into spearheading the hunt for Unsub 823, the demonic cabbie whose fares often face nightmarish scenarios of torture and death. Though he shows no mercy to his victims, Unsub 823 obligingly salts each crime scene with cryptic clues to his next, clues that whet Rhyme's jaundiced appetite and give him the hope of saving currency trader T.J. Colfax, German emigrée Monelle Gerger, elderly William Everett, and widowed Carole Ganz and her daughter. It's not long before Rhyme's blood is pumping again, and he's persuaded beautiful Amelia Sachs, the Major Crimes officer who preserved the first crime scene long enough to gather a few precious scraps of evidence, to put off her medical transfer to Public Affairs and become his eyes, ears, and nose at each gory scene. Working feverishly against a series of impossible deadlines, Sachs and Rhyme piece together a profile of the perp's appearance, his lodgings, his car, his habits, and the idée fixe that drives him: He believes he's the Bone Collector, a demented ghoul who preyed on New York's dead and near-dead at the turn of the century, determined to free his victims from this mortal coil by stripping them to ageless bone.

Deaver (A Maiden's Grave, 1995, etc.) marries forensic work that would do Patricia Cornwell proud to a turbocharged plot that puts Benzedrine to shame.

From the Publisher
“Deaver gives new meaning to the phrase ‘chilled to the bone.’”—People

“Exciting and fast-paced.”—Peter Straub

“Stylish, scary, and superb.”—Tami Hoag

“Dazzling.”—The New York Times Book Review

“A top-notch thriller....Rhyme is a great character…and Sachs a great partner. Chilling.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Lightning-paced…a breakneck thrill ride.”—The Wall Street Journal

Product Details

Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd.
Publication date:
Lincoln Rhyme Series , #1

Meet the Author

Jeffery Deaver is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty novels, including The Kill Room, XO, and A Textbook Case. He has been nominated for seven Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America and is a three-time recipient of the Ellery Queen Readers Award for Best Short Story of the Year.

Brief Biography

Washington, D.C.
Date of Birth:
May 6, 1950
Place of Birth:
Chicago, Illinois
B.A., University of Missouri; Juris Doctor, cum laude, Fordham University School of Law

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The Bone Collector (Lincoln Rhyme Series #1) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 147 reviews.
Neil_Collins More than 1 year ago
I had seen the movie adaptation of this book long before I knew anything about the book itself. When I stumbled upon Jeffery Deaver, the author, and discovered a series featuring Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs, I wanted to read them all, based on how much I had enjoyed the film. As is all to often the case, the book and the film share a title and a few elements, but the stories are so very different as to be nearly unrelated. Fortunately, Mr. Deaver's story was exceptionally well written. I found the construction of the storyline dynamic and exciting, and the fact that it differed so from the movie left me guessing at many of his twists and turns. For those unfamiliar with the story, Lincoln Rhyme was the most brilliant forensic investigator ever to have been a part of the NYPD. He had created their protocol for forensic investigation, worked with the FBI, established databases for cataloging trace evidence. He'd done it all. Until a falling beam on a crime scene he was working stuck him, crushing the fourth cervical vertebra, leaving his supercharged brain nearly the only working part of his body. His head and shoulders, a little movement in his left ring finger, and his vivid recollection of the city are all he has; other than a desire to end his own life. Patrol Officer Amelia Sachs is a tall, beautiful, former model with aspirations of getting off the street and into her new assignment in public relations. In ways, she may be even more damaged than even Rhyme. When she is called to investigate the report of a partially buried body, she discovers an intentionally left clue to a series of abduction murders. Murders that have not yet happened. Racing against time, Rhyme is reluctantly drafted to run the forensics, and he pulls in the equally reluctant Sachs as his eyes and legs to work the scenes. The resulting symbiosis is far greater than the sum of its parts, and the whirlwind telling of the story is masterful. The Bone Collector is an energetic and well researched book, full of vivid and often troubling images. Jeffery Deaver has done a fantastic job here, and I whole heartedly recommend this book to all.
UpAllNight More than 1 year ago
I have been a follower of the "New Religion", Forensics, for years. While laid up with an injury, I discovered "Forensic Files" on CourtTV... which, unlike entertaining "scripted" TV series such as CSI, does not spoon-feed or sugar-coat the science behind solving crime for the audience. That being said, Mr. Deaver gives me the pleasure of enjoying true forensics... not something dumbed-down for the enjoyment of the masses. Truly, how often is the Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer even mentioned on CSI? Mr. Deaver is obviously very comfortable with the inner workings of forensic science... making sure his characters are fully capable of bandying the terms back and forth in a way that makes perfect sense to the audience, while never bogging down the break-neck pace of the story - a talent some other authors could well benefit from learning.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read The Bone Collector and it's a very good book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I saw the movie too, and the book and the movie where both very good!!!!!!!!
HerbBCO More than 1 year ago
Characters are great, with many details about crime scene investigation. I found a later part of the series and had to start at the beginning, just because the one I read was so good. This helped me understand better some of the later parts in the series. Each book can be read out of order, but they make more sense if you start at the beginning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I tried to finish what others have raved about. The f word and its useage increases as the story goes on. I understand using language of the culture however this was over done. I have enjoyed his other books and as such am giving the second book a try. If language offends you avoid this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing book. Creepy, complex characters, twist at the end...what more coild someone ask for? Lincoln rhyme is a former detective who was injured in an accident that made him a quadriplegic. Now he can only move his head, shoulders, and left ring finger. Unexpectedly, hiold partner comes to him asking for his help on a case. This bothers rhyme because it gets in the way of his goal of killing himself, but he rediscovers that he is an amazing detective. Like brilliant.
Anonymous 29 days ago
Dun dun dun
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First time reading Deaver - spellbinding
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this series alot, starting with this one. The movie was even better. Angelina & Denzel have amazing chemistry as their characters fall in love during the madness of tracking a serial killer. WOW!!!
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BlueSky45 More than 1 year ago
This was a riveting book that kept my attention. I was looking forward to continuing reading every chance I got. I will buy more of this series and others by Jeffery Deaver.
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hdken More than 1 year ago
kept me on edge most of the time. Very detailed,
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Grabber from the start.. could not put it down