Daily Archives: May 10, 2011

Book Review: The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver

Title: The Burning Wire
Author: Jeffery Deaver
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton; Hachette Book Group
ISBN: 978-1-444-704280
Genre: Thriller, Crime Fiction
PP: 462 pages
Source: Publisher
Price: Rs. 295
Rating: 4/5

Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme novels (I have read them all) have captivated me with their attention to forensic detail, interesting plots, and unerring ability to trick the reader into believing something that appears so obvious, but which really is an illusion.

Premise: One-tenth of one amp of electricity is enough to stop your heart and kill you. Your hairdryer pulls about ten amps. Scared now? I am.

Jeffery Deaver takes this simple bit of information and expands it into a thriller that you can’t put down. He’s writing at the top of his form in The Burning Wire and I loved this book. Non-stop thrills, plenty of things to be scared of, good guys and bad guys, and lots of things to learn about electricity.

Although he’s always a good writer, I’ve been disappointed with the recent Lincoln Rhyme novels and was beginning to wonder if Deaver had jumped the shark with this series, but this book may be one of the best in this series yet.

The only downside of this book is that I’m now highly aware of how much metal I touch every single day even when it’s raining and how easy it is to electrify things. This novel focuses primarily on Rhyme’s attempt to catch a villain who kills people using electricity, and secondarily on trying to catch a villain named the Watchmaker, who appeared in an earlier novel. If you did not read the earlier novel you will not really understand the Watchmaker, but doing so is not necessary for reading the current novel.

My main critique of this novel is that sometimes I felt as if I was reading a textbook on electricity. While Deaver wants the reader to understand the technical background of what the main villain is doing, he provides excessive descriptions of different aspects of electricity that serve only to interrupt the narrative and really are unnecessary. It would be like reading a novel containing a scene where a burglar alarm is disarmed, only to have the action interrupted by having one of the characters make a speech about how burglar alarms are constructed, the safeguards used to prevent their being disarmed, the different ways to overcome those safeguards, etc.

In addition, I just did not feel the same sense of excitement as in other Lincoln Rhyme novels until I was 80% through this novel. It was not until the last 20% that I recognized the trademark Deaver cleverness and misdirection, and felt that the novel’s pace had picked up–probably because by that point most of the electricity explanations were done.

Without spoiling anything, I thought that the ending was very clever, but wished that getting there could have been more interesting. All in all it was a good read.

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Book Review: Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay

Title: Never Look Away
Author: Linwood Barclay
Publisher: Orion Books, HBG
ISBN: 978-1-4091-2091-9
Genre: Thriller
PP: 513 pages
Price: Rs. 295
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Don’t read this book! Not unless you’re prepared to give up sleeping until you finish it. And maybe for a while afterwards. Yep, it’s that good.

Davis Harwood is an ordinary guy, with an ordinary family, living in an ordinary small town. But he has a problem: his wife is depressed and seems to be edging towards suicide. When she buys tickets so they can go to an amusement park for the day, David thinks maybe she’s getting better. But shortly after they get there, their son disappears. David finds him, but now his wife has disappeared. Suddenly, David’s life turns into a waking nightmare where things just keep getting worse.

Lincoln Barclay grabs your throat in the first chapter and never lets go. Unlike a lot of entries in the genre, none of these characters have the unbelievable deductive powers, superhuman strength, or friends conveniently working in key positions. The good guys do their best, make mistakes, then regroup and try again. The bad guys are not possessed by some sort of demonic evil, they’re in it for the money but just don’t care who gets hurt along the way. And good luck figuring out who is really good, who is really bad, and who is sliding along in the middle somewhere.

The characters are so well fleshed-out, and so believable, you could swear you’ve met some of them before. Everything makes sense in context, so you never shake your head and wonder, “why would he ever do something so stupid?” The plot moves briskly; so briskly you won’t have time to anticipate the twists and turns and shocks. You travel right along with David and can’t shake the eerie, uncomfortable feeling that it could all have very well happened to you.

I don’t want to reveal any more of the plot for fear of giving away too much. I’ll just say that this is one of the twistiest of the twisty suspense novels I’ve read, that some intriguing questions of identity arise, and that there are multiple story lines, with the point of view alternating between David’s compelling, first-person narration and the viewpoints of various other characters in the third person. David is a likable, intelligent, ordinary man caught up in perilously extraordinary circumstances, and young Ethan and David’s parents are other sympathetic characters the reader will care about.

This book has major motion picture written all over it. But don’t wait for the movie, buy the book and read it now. It gets my highest recommendation!