Mystery / Suspense

The Skin Collector
A Lincoln Rhyme Novel

Written by: Jeffery Deaver

Published By: Grand Central Publishing

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                Those of you who follow know that I am a huge Jeffery Deaver fan, especially his Lincoln Rhyme novels.  Ever since The Bone Collector, I have been collecting and reading every Lincoln Rhyme short story and novel Deaver produces.  Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise anyone that I ran out to Barnes & Noble The Skin Collector, as soon as it hit the stands.

                One thing about Jeffery Deaver, he’s not one of those authors who repeats titles or uses key words in his titles like John Sanford (Silent Prey, Rules of Prey, Stolen Prey, etc.), Lillian Jackson Brown (The Cat Who series), etc.  He rarely uses the same word in his titles twice (besides the word “The”).  So, when this newest novel’s title sounded like the first Lincoln Rhyme novel’s title and considering rumor had it that the author had been contemplating bringing an end to the series, I wondered if things had finally come full circle for the crime fighting team of Lincoln Rhyme, Amelia Sachs and the growing list of associates.  I also was worried that this latest serial killer might be into collecting swatches of skin (yuck!).

                The Skin Collector begins with Rhyme struggling to digest the news that Richard Logan, AKA: The Watchmaker, had died in prison.  Representing one of the criminals who had challenged Rhyme the most during the criminalist’s latest career as NYPD consultant, Rhyme actually found himself shocked and wishing he knew more about his nemesis.  He comes up with a plan in an effort to glean more information about Logan and his possible family or associates.

                In the meantime, Lon Sellito of Major Crimes has brought him a new case, a serial killer who is into skin modifications tattoos, piercings and the like.  He likes to perform them on his victims, using poison for the tattoos instead of ink.  And this guy is good – not only at his chosen kill method, but at covering his tracks, cleaning up trace evidence to make it hard for Rhyme’s team to track him, but one piece of evidence offers an interesting bit of speculation.  It’s possible that this new killer is an admirer of the perpetrator that brought Lincoln and Amelia together – The Bone Collector.

                Can Lincoln Rhyme, Amelia Sachs, Lon Sellito, Ron Pulaski, Mel Cooper and their associates figure out just who this murderer is and what his real intention is before he takes out too many victims?  And can they do it before he starts targeting the members of the team?

                I can’t remember where it was that I heard Deaver was planning on pulling away from the Lincoln Rhyme series, but I do remember that this bit of information made me rather sad.  I really love this series for quite a few reasons.  For one thing, it’s set in New York City, a place I know very well.  For another, I enjoy forensic science and all of its nuances.  And I love the bits of history that I find in these books.  I love the fact that Jeffery Deaver doesn’t just try to write a story that is entertaining, he tries to teach the reader a thing or two.  This time around, I learned a bit more about the tunnels under Soho and what they were used for.  I also learned about the poison deaths of many a historic figure over the years.  Quite interesting.

                Just like the other books in this series, The Skin Collector is an amazing rollercoaster ride filled with twists and turns that will leave you guessing until the very end.  I had come up with a theory for the murders quite early in the novel and was just wondering if Deaver had lost his touch when he threw a monkey wrench in things and messed up my whole theory (which actually made me very happy).  The race against time action in the book was great and I loved the side story involving Amelia and her “little sister” Pam. 

                But, I can’t say that I enjoyed everything in this book.  For one thing, I’ve been noticing that Deaver is fond of bringing more and more “experts” into the fold and has a habit of having his killers target members of the team.  But with the number of times these folks are targeted, most of them escape relatively unscathed.  Nobody has been lost over the years, which seems rather unrealistic, if you ask me, especially when you consider how intelligent most of Rhyme’s adversaries can be. 

                Another annoying factor – the resolution of The Watchmaker case.  Without giving anything away, I can only say that I didn’t enjoy his involvement in this case.  While I understand that The Watchmaker was one of Rhyme’s most challenging case, I feel that his case was over and done and should have never had any bearing on The Skin Collector.

                That being said, I still enjoyed The Skin Collector and fervently hope that this isn’t the last of the Rhyme series of novels.  It’s a fast read – I finished the 430-page novel in just a couple of days – and I had a great deal of fun trying to solve the mystery behind the murders along with Rhyme and his team.


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