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Thursday 5 May 2016

‘The Steel Kiss’ by Jeffery Deaver

Published by Hodder and Stoughton,
22 March 2016.  
ISBN: 978 1 473 61849 7

Amelia Sachs, a glamorous, red-haired, ex-model is now a detective with the NYPD. She is watching a murder suspect in a shopping mall when she is diverted by the screams of a man who has fallen through the service hatch at the top of the escalator.  Before he dies from his terrible injuries, the victim begs Amelia to visit his wife and son and tell them that he loves them.  Amelia duly visits the victim’s wife and, after discovering that the wife is virtually destitute, she engages the services of a top litigation lawyer, a certain Mr Whitmore, to help the mother and son in their fight for compensation.  Amelia also enlists the help of Lincoln Rhyme, a former NYPD detective who also just happens to be her fiancée.

Rhyme had left the force several years previously after he became a quadriplegic following an accident that happened whilst he was looking for evidence on a building site. Before we meet him in this book, the wheelchair-bound Rhyme had been operating one of the most advanced forensic labs in the country from his sitting room. But we meet Rhyme at somewhat of a crisis in his life. Believing he is indirectly responsible for the death of a man, Rhyme has give up on forensic work and taken to teaching the subject instead.

Juliette Archer, who is also wheelchair-bound, is one of Rhyme’s students. She persuades him to give her an informal internship and she quickly proves her worth.  Will she rival Amelia for Rhyme’s affections?

 Once Rhyme has been persuaded to return – temporarily he insists - to help with the forensic investigations into the malfunctioning of the escalator, it becomes obvious that there was no obvious fault responsible for causing the escalator’s hatch to open.

Meanwhile Amelia is still trying to capture her murderer. She is helped by a NYPD cop, Ron Pulaski, but he seems to spend a lot of time following his own agenda. Ron’s meetings with undesirable characters from whom he buys drugs and pays over the top for information have nothing to do with Amelia’s murder hunt, so what are they all about?

The plot develops very slowly, but it speeds up once other, unexplained, accidents involving a variety of machines start happening.  Eventually it becomes clear that there is a common denominator linking the accidents to each other, and also to the murderer that Amelia had been chasing. Those wary of technology may well be tempted to return to their Luddite lifestyle after reading the Steel Kiss, whilst others will enjoy its application/misapplication as an ingenious means of committing crimes.  There are several good twists at the end of what proved to be a chilling story motivated by revenge. This is the twelfth book in the Lincoln Rhyme series and I for one will be curious to see what happened in some of the earlier books.
Reviewer Angela Crowther

Jeffery Deaver is the Number One bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the 2011 authorised James Bond thriller, Carte Blanche, three collections of short stories and a non-fiction law book. A former journalist, attorney, and folksinger, he has received or been shortlisted for numerous awards around the world, including Novel of the Year from the International Thriller Writers Association for The Bodies Left Behind, the Steel Dagger for Best Thriller from the British Crime Writers' Association, and the British Thumping Good Read Award.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

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