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The Empty Chair    by Jeffery Deaver order for
Empty Chair
by Jeffery Deaver
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 2001 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Empty Chair is the third novel starring Lincoln Rhyme, a criminalist with the stature of a modern day Sherlock Holmes. Of course there is one important difference. Rhyme is a quadriplegic, dependent for crime scene observations on his beloved assistant Amelia Sachs, and for his continued health on his meticulous aide, Thom. This is an exceptional character, a crimefighting superhero despite his lack of mobility, and Deaver typically pits him against devious and equally brilliant supervillains.

Rhyme is in Avery, N. Carolina for spinal surgery. The chances of its improving his condition are not good and Amelia is against it. When a local sheriff asks for Rhyme's help in finding a kidnapped young woman, she urges him to take on the case. Garrett Hanlon, the repulsive sixteen year old killer who is locally called the Insect Boy, strikes again; the case turns into a hornet's nest of trouble and ends up with Amelia hunted by trigger happy local cops.

Aside from the pervasive insect theme (which pulls in all kinds of intriguing bug lore) this story does not have the horror quotient of Rhyme's first foray against The Bone Collector. However, Deaver more than makes up for it by the deviousness of his plot, which twists and turns all through the tale, just as the fugitive Insect Boy flees back and forth through the Carolina swamps. So don't get complacent about figuring out this mystery; the author will keep you guessing till the very last page!

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