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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