The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver

The Skin CollectorReviewed by Allen Hott

Devious, forward thinking, and always interesting. That is exactly what describes any book by Jeffery Deaver but especially one involving Lincoln Rhyme. For those of you (if there are any) who are not familiar with Lincoln Rhyme he is a paraplegic former NYC detective who has for some time now worked from his wheelchair as a consultant to the Detective Squad.

Aiding Rhyme in his analysis of unsolved crimes is Amelia Sachs, his right hand and live-in assistant although she is also a lead detective for the police force. He also now has a NYPD patrol officer, Ron Pulaski (known as Rookie to Rhyme) who joined the crew a few books ago.

Their activities in The Skin Collector are initiated by Lon Sellitto who is a lead officer in the Major Crimes Division. Sellitto brings news of a new case in which a woman was found in the basement of a boutique where she worked. The woman appeared to have just recently been tattooed on her stomach but it appears that instead of ink the tattoo artist used poison.

Once Sachs begins the outside investigation, Rhyme with help from Pulaski begin pulling together all known facts and the further they get into it the more involved it becomes. It appears that the crime could be just the beginning to a major assault on the metropolitan area.

In checking the crime scene Sachs reads to Rhyme over the phone the message tattooed on the body and she also begins checking out the passageways that lead into the basement. She finds an entry ladder leading to the street where someone happens to help lift the sewer lid for her but then quickly runs off. She only gets a glimpse of him and heads back down where she finds other evidence that brings into play possible tinkering with IPHON boxes and city waterlines.

While the Rhyme team works on this particular gruesome crime scene with what the tattooed message might mean the author brings in a running subplot following the killer and what all he is doing and planning. Everything seems to be pointing to some type of possible terrorist attack.

While this is going on Sachs is also having difficulty with Pam, a young lady she has helped to raise after the girl lost her parents. Although Pam lives with another adoptive family now she and Sachs have always been close. However recently she has met a young man who wants her to move in with him and then travel to Europe. This turmoil has Sachs very much on edge while she is trying to maintain her cool and keep her concentration on the case.

More and more happenings occur that broaden the case including more tattoos and more murders plus some other things pointing toward that possible terroristic attack. As it develops this villain also seems somehow tied to The Bone Collector or The Watchmaker (two previous villains in Rheem’s history).

Deaver is fantastic when it comes to weaving many parts of a story together and holding the reader’s attention all the while. Some of his describing of medical procedures and in this case tattooing procedures can sometime slow down the action but overall he keeps everything moving toward an end which very few readers will figure out at least not early on. Deception is his game!

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