Lincoln Rhyme is back...
From the bestselling author of The Bone Collector and The Devil's Teardrop comes this spine-chilling new thriller that pits renowned criminalist Lincoln Rhyme against the ultimate opponent -- Amelia Sachs, his own brilliant protégée.
A quadriplegic since a beam crushed his spinal cord years ago, Rhyme is desperate to improve his condition and goes to the University of North Carolina Medical Center for high-risk experimental surgery. But he and Sachs have hardly settled in when the local authorities come calling. In a twenty-four-hour period, the sleepy Southern outpost of Tanner's Corner has seen a local teen murdered and two young women abducted. And Rhyme and Sachs are the best chance to find the girls alive.
The prime suspect is a strange teenaged truant known as the Insect Boy, so nicknamed for his disturbing obsession with bugs. Rhyme agrees to find the boy while awaiting his operation. Rhyme's unsurpassed analytical skills and stellar forensic experience, combined with Sachs's exceptional detective legwork, soon snare the perp. But even Rhyme can't anticipate that Sachs will disagree with his crime analysis and that her vehemence will put her in the swampland, harboring the very suspect whom Rhyme considers a ruthless killer. So ensues Rhyme's greatest challenge -- facing the criminalist whom he has taught everything he knows in a battle of wits, forensics, and intuition. And in this adversary, Rhyme also faces his best friend and soul mate.
With the intricate forensic detail, breathtaking speed, and masterful plot twists that are signature Deaver, The Empty Chair is page-turning suspense of the highest order, destined to continue Jeffery Deaver's bestselling track record and thrill his legions of fans worldwide.
Lincoln Rhyme, the gruff quadriplegic detective and forensic expert of Bone Collector fame, strays far from his Manhattan base to a spooky North Carolina backwater in this engrossing and outlandish tale about the hunt for evil. The hick town is called Tanner's Corner, where Rhyme--in North Carolina for experimental surgery--has been called by the local sheriff to oversee the search for a kidnapper and his victims. The kidnapper is 16-year-old Garrett Hanlon, a local youth of ill repute whose obsession with bugs has earned him the nickname "The Insect Boy." His captives are Mary Beth McConnell, who Hanlon has stalked for months, and local nurse Lydia Johansson, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. A marathon chase ensues across North Carolina's perilous swampland by sheriff deputies and Rhyme's assistant and lover, Amelia Sachs. Rhyme, a former New York City cop whose on-the-job injury several years earlier left him with movement in only one finger, directs the search from his wheelchair at sheriff headquarters. As he examines forensic evidence from the crime scenes and points along the search route, Rhyme grows increasingly suspicious about which players are the good guys and which are masking their evil intentions. The story grows heavy in the middle, but eventually takes several of Deaver's trademark twists, cleverly camouflaged for maximum effect. The characters surrounding Rhyme in his third adventure are colorful, back-country cutouts who serve their purpose well. In the end, it's all a bit hard to swallow--particularly the ultimate revelations about Tanner's Corner and its strange inhabitants--but for thrills and surprises, Deaver is still aces. Agent, Deborah Schneider. Major ad/promo; Literary Guild and Mystery Guild main selections; Doubleday Book Club super release; Reader's Digest Condensed Books selection. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Showing 1-1 of the 1 most recent reviews
1 . Thrill a Minute
Posted July 01, 2009 by Ila Turner , Sanford, MELincoln is back leaving us guessing and wondering every minute, turning pages breathlessly. This is one of the best I had read by this author, and I learned a lot from the suspect in the book. It keeps you guessing right up until the final two pages, not only about the crime, who did it, who might do it, and what might happen to Lincoln in the hospital's surgery unit. Amelia Sachs is in more than a little hot water in this one also, and there's no shortage of guessing who you can trust.
Simon & Schuster
April 02, 2001
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Excerpt from The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver
She came here to lay flowers at the place where the boy died and the girl was kidnapped.
She came here because she was a heavy girl and had a pocked face and not many friends.
She came because she was expected to.
She came because she wanted to.
Ungainly and sweating, twenty-six-year-old Lydia Johansson walked along the dirt shoulder of Route 112, where she'd parked her Honda Accord, then stepped carefully down the hill to the muddy bank where Blackwater Canal met the opaque Paquenoke River.
She came here because she thought it was the right thing to do.
She came even though she was afraid.
It wasn't long after dawn but this August had been the hottest in years in North Carolina and Lydia was already sweating through her nurse's whites by the time she started toward the clearing on the riverbank, surrounded by willows and tupelo gum and broad-leafed bay trees. She easily found the place she was looking for; the yellow police tape was very evident through the haze.
Early morning sounds. Loons, an animal foraging in the thick brush nearby, hot wind through sedge and swamp grass.
Lord, I'm scared, she thought. Flashing back vividly on the most gruesome scenes from the Stephen King and Dean Koontz novels she read late at night with her companion, a pint of Ben & Jerry's.
More noises in the brush. She hesitated, looked around. Then continued on."Hey," a man's voice said. Very near.
Lydia gasped and spun around. Nearly dropped the flowers. "Jesse, you scared me."
"Sorry." Jesse Corn stood on the other side of a weeping willow, near the clearing that was roped off. Lydia noticed that their eyes were fixed on the same thing: a glistening white outline on the ground where the boy's body'd been found. Surrounding the line indicating Billy's head was a dark stain that, as a nurse, she recognized immediately as old blood.
"So that's where it happened," she whispered.
"It is, yep." Jesse wiped his forehead and rearranged the floppy hook of blond hair. His uniform -- the beige outfit of the Paquenoke County Sheriff's Department -- was wrinkled and dusty. Dark stains of sweat blossomed under his arms. He was thirty and boyishly cute. "How long you been here?" she asked.
"I don't know. Since five maybe."
"I saw another car," she said. "Up the road. Is that Jim?"
"Nope. Ed Schaeffer. He's on the other side of the river." Jesse nodded at the flowers. "Those're pretty."
After a moment Lydia looked down at the daisies in her hand. "Two forty-nine. At Food Lion. Got 'em last night. I knew nothing'd be open this early. Well, Dell's is but they don't sell flowers." She wondered why she was rambling. She looked around again. "No idea where Mary Beth is?"
Jesse shook his head. "Not hide nor hair."
"Him neither, I guess that means."
"Him neither." Jesse looked at his watch. Then out over the dark water, dense reeds and concealing grass, the rotting pier.
Lydia didn't like it that a county deputy, sporting a large pistol, seemed as nervous as she was. Jesse started up the grassy hill to the highway. He paused, glanced at the flowers. "Only two ninety-nine?"
"Forty-nine. Food Lion."
"That's a bargain," the young cop said, squinting toward a thick sea of grass. He turned back to the hill. "I'll be up by the patrol car."
Lydia Johansson walked closer to the crime scene. She pictured Jesus, she pictured angels and she prayed for a few minutes. She prayed for the soul of Billy Stail, which had been released from his bloody body on this very spot just yesterday morning. She prayed that the sorrow visiting Tanner's Corner would soon be over.
She prayed for herself too.
More noise in the brush. Snapping, rustling.
The day was lighter now but the sun didn't do much to brighten up Blackwater Landing. The river was deep here and fringed with messy black willows and thick trunks of cedar and cypress -- some living, some not, and all choked with moss and viny kudzu. To the northeast, not far, was the Great Dismal Swamp, and Lydia Johansson, like every Girl Scout past and present in Paquenoke County, knew all the legends about that place: the Lady of the Lake, the Headless Trainman....But it wasn't those apparitions that bothered her; Blackwater Landing had its own ghost -- the boy who'd kidnapped Mary Beth McConnell.
Lydia opened her purse and lit a cigarette with shaking hands. Felt a bit calmer. She strolled along the shore. Stopped beside a stand of tall grass and cattails, which bent in the scorching breeze.
On top of the hill she heard a car engine start. Jesse wasn't leaving, was he? Lydia looked toward it, alarmed. But she saw the car hadn't moved. Just getting the air-conditioning going, she supposed. When she looked back toward the water she noticed the sedge and cattails and wild rice plants were still bending, waving, rustling.
As if someone was there, moving closer to the yellow tape, staying low to the ground.
But no, no, of course that wasn't the case. It's just the wind, she told herself. And she reverently set the flowers in the crook of a gnarly black willow not far from the eerie outline of the sprawled body, spattered with blood dark as the river water. She began praying once more.
Across the Paquenoke River from the crime scene, Deputy Ed Schaeffer leaned against an oak tree and ignored the early morning mosquitoes fluttering near his arms in his short-sleeved uniform shirt. He shrank down to a crouch and scanned the floor of the woods again for signs of the boy.
He had to steady himself against a branch; he was dizzy from exhaustion. Like most of the deputies in the county sheriff's department he'd been awake for nearly twenty-four hours, searching for Mary Beth McConnell and the boy who'd kidnapped her. But while, one by one, the others had gone home to shower and eat and get a few hours' sleep Ed had stayed with the search. He was the oldest deputy on the force and the biggest (fifty-one years old and two hundred sixty-four pounds of mostly unuseful weight) but fatigue, hunger and stiff joints weren't going to stop him from continuing to look for the girl.
The deputy examined the ground again.
He pushed the transmit button of his radio. "Jesse, it's me. You there?"
He whispered, "I got footprints here. They're fresh. An hour old, tops."
"Him, you think?"
"Who else'd it be? This time of morning, this side of the Paquo?"
"You were right, looks like," Jesse Corn said. "I didn't believe it at first but you hit this one on the head."
It had been Ed's theory that the boy would come back here. Not because of the clich� -- about returning to the scene of the crime -- but because Blackwater Landing had always been his stalking ground and whatever kind of trouble he'd gotten himself into over the years he always came back here.
Ed looked around, fear now replacing exhaustion and discomfort as he gazed at the infinite tangle of leaves and branches surrounding him. Jesus, the deputy thought, the boy's here someplace. He said into his radio, "The tracks look to be moving toward you but I can't tell for sure. He was walking mostly on leaves. You keep an eye out. I'm going to see where he was coming from."
Knees creaking, Ed rose to his feet and, as quietly as a big man could, followed the boy's footsteps back in the direction they'd come -- farther into the woods, away from the river.
He followed the boy's trail about a hundred feet and saw it led to an old hunting blind -- a gray shack big enough for three or four hunters. The gun slots were dark and the place seemed to be deserted. Okay, he thought. Okay...He's probably not in there. But still...
Breathing hard, Ed Schaeffer did something he hadn't done in nearly a year and a half: unholstered his weapon. He gripped the revolver in a sweaty hand and started forward, eyes flipping back and forth dizzily between the blind and the ground, deciding where best to step to keep his approach silent.
Did the boy have a gun? he wondered, realizing that he was as exposed as a soldier landing on a bald beachhead. He imagined a rifle barrel appearing fast in one of the slots, aiming down on him. Ed felt an ill flush of panic and he sprinted, in a crouch, the last ten feet to the side of the shack. He pressed against the weathered wood as he caught his breath and listened carefully. He heard nothing inside but the faint buzzing of insects.