The Skin Collector: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
May 13, 2014
A Review by Michael David Anderson
Jeffery Deaver has perfected the science of writing a brain-teasing crime thriller. Every time I crack open one of his novels, I can expect to be taken on a wild ride with twists and turns I fully anticipate but cannot predict. What makes Deaver’s novels so well-realized is how these twists are not easily ascertained in advance and yet all the evidence he lays out fully supports his revelations. In this fashion, The Skin Collector does not disappoint.
The Skin Collector is the eleventh outing for Lincoln Rhyme, an expert forensic detective who suffered a tragic injury on the job that left him quadriplegic. Along with his apprentice and lover Amelia Sachs, Rhyme works as a consultant for the NYPD on crimes that need special attention, especially cases in which a murderer or terrorist may very well strike again in a short time frame. What I love about these novels is the fact they are written as stand-alone novels; the casual reader doesn’t need to have read any of the previous novels in the series to appreciate the current one, and any important character information is easily deducted or explained in a manner that does feel heavy in exposition. Deaver is an expert at disseminating information in bite-sized morsels as he moves the plot along at a swift pace. Expect to devour his novels as you race to their inevitable conclusions.Jeffery Deaver has perfected . . . the crime thriller. . . expect to be taken on a wild ride. Click To Tweet
This particular outing serves as a spiritual successor to the first novel in the Lincoln Rhyme series, The Bone Collector, which was adapted into a film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie in 1999. Trust me when I say, just as many readers are likely to say regarding film adaptations, the novel was vastly superior to the serviceable paint-by-numbers adaptation. Washington’s portrayal of Lincoln Rhyme follows me into every Rhyme novel, yes, but otherwise I don’t think too much about the film.
Billed as a pseudo-sequel, The Skin Collector smartly offers only small ties back to The Bone Collector and focuses on its own vastly different story. The killer’s modus operandi is fascinating as well; he tattoos his victims with concentrated poison rather than ink, essentially “collecting” parts of their skin by marking them with his art before leaving them to die agonizing deaths. It’s a premise that would normally seem absurd in a lesser writer’s hands but works exceptionally well in Deaver’s. The motivation behind his actions is also quite surprising and psychologically fulfilling, although some of the novel’s twists rely quite a bit on chance and luck. Social engineering has a hand in it as well, especially when a major revelation behind the events reveals a link to a villain from previous novels, who is quickly proving to be the Moriarty to Rhyme’s Sherlock. Once again, a reading of previous Rhyme novels will help in this regard to give the reader greater appreciation of the information, but it isn’t necessary; Deaver does a great job at supplying the necessary details.
The Skin Collector isn’t the best of the Rhyme novels, but it’s a great addition to the ongoing pantheon of cases under Rhyme’s repertoire and a worthy read as a result.