Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

THE SKIN COLLECTOR by Jeffery Deaver

Jeffery Deaver The Skin Collector

At first glance, Jeffery Deaver’s new book, The Skin Collector, sounds like it has a lot in common with his breakout hit featuring forensic detective Lincoln Rhyme. Well, like all of Deaver’s creations, the book meets some of the reader’s expectations and spins others wildly in another direction.

This latest novel in his long-running series (Book 11) has a lot going on in it. In fact, as I was reading it, I really thought Deaver was throwing a lot of disparate plot lines into the mix, something that he usually doesn’t do. Ah, and even after reading all of the novels of his that I have perused over the years, he fooled me. And he didn’t.

Nope, I didn’t see how he was going to tie everything together, but he does. But I wasn’t entirely convinced that everything could be as Machiavellian as he purports it to be. By the end of the book, I just wasn’t completely convinced that everything fit so neatly.

Still, the book was a crackerjack read that kept me up past bedtime a couple nights, and I learned a whole lot about the history and current-day psychology of tattooing than I had even guessed at. Even so, Deaver doesn’t cover everything about the art, and I find myself increasingly curious about the field of skin art, to the point that I will probably search out a couple books he recommends at the end of the novel. Deaver does continue to have that effect.

The novel pretty much sustains the edgy tension the author is known for throughout the publishing world. Events cascade in, the reader thinks he or she knows what’s going on, and then the author skillfully twists and turns those events to the point the reader isn’t quite certain which way is up at times.

Deaver also plays fair. His twists and turns and endgame are actually all on the pages, and when he lays out his final reveals, you’ll remember all of them and think, “I should have known this was coming.” That’s when Deaver is doing his best, when you can look back and see everything. However, it’s nearly impossible to see everything coming. You know there’s more, but you just don’t know how much more or what it’s going to be.

I felt like the end was a bit contrived, but all the pieces fit like a craftsman’s masterpiece. It’s a dexterously built construction and it all plays out exactly the way the author intends it to.

I really enjoyed the parenthood that Lincoln and Amelia are forced to contend with, especially since their “adoptive” daughter is now college age and not content to accept their views on everything. This layer adds a lot more depth to the characters.

The large cast of characters that have been added to the series over the years is working out well too, allowing investigations to branch out in new directions so that a lot more of our regulars can brush up against the killers they face.

With this latest addition, Deaver proves there’s plenty of gas left in the Rhyme/Sachs tank for new adventures.

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