Speaking in Tongues

Speaking in Tongues

4.1 17
by Jeffery Deaver

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Tate Collier is the silver-tongued prosecutor whose successful career has finally caught up with him. When their daughter disappears, Collier and his ex-wife desperately want to believe it's teenage rebellion. But insidious signs point to foul play. Indeed, the past has come back to haunt Collier—in the form of Aaron Matthews, a brilliant, Harvard-educated…  See more details below


Tate Collier is the silver-tongued prosecutor whose successful career has finally caught up with him. When their daughter disappears, Collier and his ex-wife desperately want to believe it's teenage rebellion. But insidious signs point to foul play. Indeed, the past has come back to haunt Collier—in the form of Aaron Matthews, a brilliant, Harvard-educated psychiatrist bent on vengeance of Biblical proportions. Matthews, a gifted orator himself, soon drops words for weaponry, and in his murderous rage will go to any length to ruin Collier's life.

Featuring an urgent race against the clock and the trademark Deaver plot twists, Speaking in Tongues delivers the suspense punch that has made this author a favorite and legitimate bestseller.

Editorial Reviews

Our Review
Speak of the Devil
These days, Jeffery Deaver is best known for the popular series of suspense novels (The Bone Collector, The Coffin Dancer, The Empty Chair) featuring quadriplegic forensic genius Lincoln Rhyme. But Deaver has also written a number of excellent stand-alone novels during the course of his career, including Praying for Sleep and -- my own personal favorite -- A Maiden's Grave. His latest, Speaking in Tongues, is another effective independent novel that offers an unpredictable, furiously paced story of murder, madness, and the limitless power of language.

Two figures, each blessed with uncommon powers of persuasion, dominate the narrative. The first is Tate Collier, a lawyer and gentleman farmer whose oratorical abilities once made him the most successful prosecuting attorney in Fairfax County, Virginia. The second is Aaron Matthews, a powerfully seductive former therapist whose tragic past -- and long-standing history of mental instability -- lead him to devise a complex scenario whose ultimate goal is the destruction of Tate Collier.

By the time the novel opens, Tate's once charmed life has drifted sharply off center. He is divorced, no longer practices criminal law, and has grown increasingly estranged from his troubled teenage daughter, Megan McCall, who has developed more than her share of emotional and psychological problems. The story begins when Aaron, posing as a "substitute" therapist, kidnaps Megan and hides her away in the crumbling, gothic ruins of a deserted mental institution in the Blue Ridge mountains. In the aftermath of that kidnapping, Tate, together with his former wife, embarks on a desperate quest to locate his daughter and to understand the origins of an apparently pointless crime.

Speaking in Tongues contains an oddly engaging combination of elements. On the surface, it is an unabashed thriller filled with unexpected plot reversals and narrative sleight-of-hand. Beneath that surface, it is an extended meditation on the art of manipulation and on language as the most potent -- and versatile -- of weapons.

In essence, Speaking in Tongues recounts a series of elaborate seductions, beginning with Megan's kidnapping and ending with a fatal confrontation between two master manipulators with radically different agendas. It isn't, by any means, a perfect novel -- the prose occasionally seems hasty, and a number of incidents stretch credibility past the breaking point -- but it's original, provocative, and a great deal of fun. At the very least, it should keep Deaver's many readers happy until the next Lincoln Rhyme adventure comes along.

--Bill Sheehan

Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has been published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com).

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Pocket Books
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6.80(w) x 4.24(h) x 1.01(d)

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Chapter Two Only God could cure him. And God wasn't so inclined.

Not that it mattered, for Lincoln Rhyme was a man of science rather than theology and so he'd traveled not to Lourdes or Turin or to some Baptist tent outfitted with a manic faith healer but here, to this hospital in North Carolina, in hopes of becoming if not a whole man at least less of a partial one.

Rhyme now steered his motorized Storm Arrow wheelchair, red as a Corvette, off the ramp of the van in which he, his aide and Amelia Sachs had just driven five hundred miles — from Manhattan. His perfect lips around the controller straw, he turned the chair expertly and accelerated up the sidewalk toward the front door of the Neurologic Research Institute at the Medical Center of the University of North Carolina in Avery.

Thom retracted the ramp of the glossy black Chrysler Grand Rollx, a wheelchair-accessible van.

"Put it in a handicapped space," Rhyme called. He gave a chuckle.

Amelia Sachs lifted an eyebrow to Thom, who said, "Good mood. Take advantage. It won't last."

"I heard that," Rhyme shouted.

The aide drove off and Sachs caught up with Rhyme. She was on her cell phone, on hold with a local car rental company. Thom would be spending much of the next week in Rhyme's hospital room and Sachs wanted the freedom to keep her own hours, maybe do some exploring in the region. Besides, she was a sports-car person, not a van person, and on principle shunned vehicles whose top speed was two digits.

Sachs had been on hold for five minutes and finally she hung up in frustration. "I wouldn't mind waiting but the Muzak is terrible. I'll try later." She looked ather watch. "Only ten-thirty. But this heat is too much. I mean, way too much." Manhattan is not necessarily the most temperate of locales in August but it's much farther north than the Tar Heel State, and when they'd left the city yesterday, southbound via the Holland Tunnel, the temperature was in the low seventies and the air was dry as salt.

Rhyme wasn't paying any attention to the heat. His mind was solely on his mission here. Ahead of them the automated door swung open obediently (this would be, he assumed, the Tiffany's of handicapped-accessible facilities) and they moved into the cool corridor. While Sachs asked directions Rhyme looked around the main floor. He noticed a half-dozen unoccupied wheelchairs clustered together, dusty. He wondered what had become of the occupants. Maybe the treatment here had been so successful that they'd discarded the chairs and graduated to walkers and crutches. Maybe some had grown worse and were confined to beds or motorized chairs.

Maybe some had died.

"This way," Sachs said, nodding up the hall. Thom joined them at the elevator (double-wide door, handrails, buttons three feet off the floor) and a few minutes later they found the suite they sought. Rhyme wheeled up to the door, noticed the hands-free intercom. He said a boisterous "Open, sesame" and the door swung wide.

"We get that a lot," drawled the pert secretary when they'd entered. "You must be Mr. Rhyme. I'll tell the doctor you're here."

Dr. Cheryl Weaver was a trim, stylish woman in her mid-forties. Rhyme noticed immediately that her eyes were quick and her hands, as befitted a surgeon, seemed strong. Her nails were polish-free and short. She rose from her desk, smiled and shook Sachs's and Thom's hands, nodded to her patient. "Lincoln."

"Doctor." Rhyme's eyes took in the titles of the many books on her shelves. Then the myriad certificates and diplomas — all from good schools and renowned institutions, though her credentials were no surprise to him. Months of research had convinced Rhyme that the University Medical Center in Avery was one of the best hospitals in the world. Its oncology and immunology departments were among the busiest in the country and Dr. Weaver's neuro institute set the standard for spinal cord injury research and treatment.

"It's good to meet you at last," the doctor said. Under her hand was a three-inch-thick manila folder. Rhyme's own, the criminalist assumed. (Wondering what the keeper of the file had entered under the prognosis heading: "Encouraging"? "Poor"? "Hopeless"?) "Lincoln, you and I've had some conversations on the phone. But I want to go through the preliminaries again. For both our sakes."

Rhyme nodded curtly. He was prepared to tolerate some formality though he had little patience for ass-covering. Which is what this was starting to sound like.

"You've read the literature about the Institute. And you know we're starting some trials of a new spinal cord regeneration and reconstruction technique. But I have to stress again that this is experimental."

"I understand that."

"Most of the quads I've treated know more neurology than a general practitioner. And I'll bet you're no exception."

"Know something about science," Rhyme said dismissively. "Know something about medicine." And he offered her an example of his trademark shrug, a gesture Dr. Weaver seemed to notice and file away.

She continued, "Well, forgive me if I repeat what you already know but it's important for you to understand what this technique can do and what it can't do."

"Please," Rhyme said. "Go on."

"Our approach at the Institute here is an all-out assault on the site of the injury. We use traditional decompression surgery to reconstruct the bony structure of the vertebrae themselves and to protect the site where your injury occurred. Then we graft two things into the site of the injury: One is some of the patient's own peripheral nervous system tissue. And the other substance we graft is some embryonic central nervous system cells, which — "

"Ah, the shark," Rhyme said.

"That's right. Blue shark, yes."

"Lincoln was telling us that," Sachs said. "Why shark?"

"Immunologic reasons, compatibility with humans. Also," the doctor added, laughing, "it's a damn big fish so we can get a lot of embryo material from one."

"Why embryo?" Sachs asked.

"It's the adult central nervous system that doesn't naturally regenerate," Rhyme grumbled, impatient with the interruption. "Obviously, a baby's nervous system has to grow."

"Exactly. Then, in addition to the decompression surgery and micrografting, we do one more thing — which is what we're so excited about: We've developed some new drugs that we think might have a significant effect on improving regeneration."

Sachs asked, "Are there risks?"

Rhyme glanced at her, hoping to catch her eye. He knew the risks. He'd made his decision. He didn't want her interrogating his doctor. But Sachs's attention was wholly on Dr. Weaver. Rhyme recognized her expression; it was how she examined a crime scene photo.

"Of course there are risks. The drugs themselves aren't particularly dangerous. But any C4 quad is going to have lung impairment. You're off a ventilator but with the anesthetic there's a chance of respiratory failure. Then the stress of the procedure could lead to autonomic dysreflexia and resulting severe blood pressure elevation — I'm sure you're familiar with that — which in turn could lead to a stroke or a cerebral event. There's also a risk of surgical trauma to the site of your initial injury — you don't have any cysts now and no shunts but the operation and resulting fluid buildup could increase that pressure and cause additional damage."

"Meaning he could get worse," Sachs said.

Dr. Weaver nodded and looked down at the file, apparently to refresh her memory, though she didn't open the folder. She looked up. "You have movement of one lumbrical — the ring finger of your left hand — and good shoulder and neck muscle control. You could lose some or all of that. And lose your ability to breathe spontaneously."

Sachs remained perfectly still. "I see," she said finally, the words coming out as a taut sigh.

The doctor's eyes were locked on Rhyme's. "And you have to weigh these risks in light of what you hope to gain — you aren't going to be able to walk again, if that's what you were hoping for. Procedures of this sort have had some limited success with spinal cord injuries at the lumbar and thoracic level — much lower and much less severe than your injury. It's had only marginal success with cervical injuries and none at all with a C4-level trauma."

"I'm a gambling man," he said quickly. Sachs gave him a troubled glance. Because she'd know that Lincoln Rhyme wasn't a gambling man at all. He was a scientist who lived his life according to quantifiable, documented principles. He added simply, "I want the surgery."

Dr. Weaver nodded and seemed neither pleased nor displeased about his decision. "You'll need to have several tests that should take several hours. The procedure's scheduled for the day after tomorrow. I have about a thousand forms and questionnaires for you. I'll be right back with the paperwork."

Sachs rose and followed the doctor out of the room. Rhyme heard her asking, "Doctor, I have a..." The door clicked shut.

"Conspiracy," Rhyme muttered to Thom. "Mutiny in the ranks."

"She's worried about you."

"Worried? That woman drives a hundred fifty miles an hour and plays gunslinger in the South Bronx. I'm getting baby fish cells injected into me."

"You know what I'm saying."

Rhyme tossed his head impatiently. His eyes strayed to a corner of Dr. Weaver's office, where a spinal cord — presumably real — rested on a metal stand. It seemed far too fragile to support the complicated human life that had once hung upon it.

The door opened. Sachs stepped into the office. Someone entered behind her but it wasn't Dr. Weaver. The man was tall, trim except for a slight paunch, and wearing a county sheriff's tan uniform. Unsmiling, Sachs said, "You've got a visitor."

Seeing Rhyme, the man took off his Smokey the Bear hat and nodded. His eyes darted not to Rhyme's body, as did most people's upon meeting him, but went immediately to the spine on the stand behind the doctor's desk. Back to the criminalist. "Mr. Rhyme. I'm Jim Bell. Roland Bell's cousin? He told me you were going to be in town and I drove over from Tanner's Corner."

Roland was on the NYPD and had worked with Rhyme on several cases. He was currently a partner of Lon Sellitto, a detective Rhyme had known for years. Roland had given Rhyme the names of some of his relatives to call when he was down in North Carolina for the operation in case he wanted some visitors. Jim Bell was one of them, Rhyme recalled. Looking past the sheriff toward the doorway through which his angel of mercy, Dr. Weaver, had yet to return, the criminalist said absently, "Nice to meet you."

Bell gave a grim smile. He said, "Matter of fact, sir, I don't know you're going to be feeling that way for too long."

Copyright © 2000 by Jeffery Deaver

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Speaking in Tongues 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are exciting twists and turns and I both loved and loathed the villian. I didn't necessarily love the ending, I wish there was more but it's great none the less. I read it everytime I managed to at school and at home, I'll be looking into more of Jeffrey's books.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Deaver, I have read all his work so far and this was on of my least favorite. Its just to far fetched. I understand you need to have an open mind and just let things happen but this was all to perfect - everything fell into perfect place making for a great story but it left me thinking....... yeah right! As always the story was great, good plot and pretty twisted fella was this Matthews but seriously I was pretty bored once I was half way through it. Figured what was coming next and how he took care of the witnesses was a bit to much for me. Too cute, to easy, to boring...... I think Deaver is great, usually he makes me think about the book for a few days after I am done but this one will not be. If you can find it in a bargain bin for a couple bucks and you have nothing to do its a great time filler but other than that I say skip it. I am shocked on B&N the reviews are so good, other site I use they are far less favorable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first J. Deaver book and I was so looking forward to it. He'd been highly recommended by several people. Although I thought it was well written and suspenseful, I found it too gruesome. Matthews' violence was too horrific for me. I think it could give some folks nightmares. Admittedly, I did finish it because I wanted to know the ending (I thought).
Guest More than 1 year ago
Speaking in Tongues by Jeffery Deaver is, in my opion, a fantastic book. As expected from Mr. Deaver, it has twist and turns but not so many that the reader/listner becomes confused. The story line is great, the pace is just right, and the narrator, Dennis Boutsikaris, is, as always, fantastic. This book is hightly recommended to all. Kit
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Speaking in Tongues' by Jeffery Deaver is a clever thrill-ride that introduces an original type of psychopath: One that understands knives and guns are not the most dangerous weapons, but words are. Aaron Matthews is by far one of the most brilliant and intriguing villains in suspense books I've read, and I have read a lot of them. Jeffery Deaver gives the reader great insight into the minds of the characters. Aaron Matthews is a psychiatrist who uses his power of persuasion to kidnapp Megan McCall, the daughter of Bett McCall and Tate Collier, and exact a powerful revenge on this already crumbling family. 'Speaking in Tounges' is like 'Cape Fear', 'Along Came a Spider', and some other thrillers, with a whole new bent to it. The thing I admire is the writing style, and the way the words persuade and seduce. The novel brings forth such emotion, suspense, truthfulness, and even in some scenes, beauty. It is a masterpiece and a work of art.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok I'm a pretty big reader. I go through alot of books no problem. I couldn't put this down. I was just consumed by the book. I love the character Aaron Matthews. This book is a definite must read. Place it at the top of your list and buy a copy. You won't regret it
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read between 5 - 7 books by Jeffrey Deaver. This wasn't the best of his works, but it still is worth reading. I found the pace of the book to alternate between fast moving and somewhat slower, but I found that I had to finish the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first Deaver book and I can tell you he is near the top of my favorites now. This book was a breeze to read and I look forward to reading some of his previous work. Real Page Turner.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Seventeen year old Megan McCall is required to see a psychologist after becoming very drunk and climbing the town¿s water tower. When she arrives at her appointment, her usual shrink is not there. Instead subbing is Dr. Bill Peters. He maneuvers Megan into writing notes to her parents that pour out how she feels about them. He next injects her with a chemical that knocks her out. Bill places the unconscious teen in the trunk of his Mercedes before driving to an abandoned insane asylum. Dr. Bill Peters is actually Dr. Aaron Matthews, a brilliant psychiatrist seeking vengeance from Megan¿s father for destroying his life.

Megan¿s parents, Brett and Tate, do not know their daughter well enough to realize that she is not at her father¿s home. Tate has been indifferent towards his daughter and Brett is interested in her own social life. By the time they conclude that something is wrong, they cannot persuade the police that Megan has been abducted and not a runaway. Matthews discredits anyone who intervenes otherwise. Brett and Tate turn amateur sleuths in a risky effort to rescue their daughter.

Although SPEAKING IN TONGUES lacks the deep intensity of some of Jeffrey Deaver¿s previous novels, the story line remains an exciting thriller. The plot emphasizes why the antagonist loathes the hero to the point that he will go to extreme lengths to see his enemy suffer. The relationship between Megan¿s parents seems unreal and staged, but Megan¿s behavior provides credibility to the cast. Though not quite a Lincoln, fans will enjoy Mr. Deaver¿s latest work.

Harriet Klausner

Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is just the best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't know what else to say. I've now read almost all of his books and most of his short stories and my review headline says it all. I'm running out of adjectives to describe his books. I've used the words 'awesome', 'superb', magnificent', 'greatest' and 'terrific' to death. I promise I won't use any of those words in THIS review (even though they all could be used to describe SPEAKING IN TONGUES). If you have never read Deaver (WHERE YA BEEN?), then you need to quickly order all his books and have a Deaver-thon. You will NOT be disappointed. This is my guarantee to you (take it for what its worth). Pick ANY book by Deaver and you too will be using the words I am not going to mention in this review (see above) to describe whichever book you pick. I will close this review with two words and a ton of exclamation points for Mr. Deaver. ....WRITE FASTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!