Mystery / Suspense

The Steel Kiss

Written by: Jeffery Deaver

Published By: Grand Central Publishing

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                For some time now, I've been talking about all of these hi-tech items being placed in cars and homes.  Technology like the type that sends you messages when your car needs new brakes, an oil change or other maintenance that it senses is due.  Technology like the type that allows you to watch your home while you are not there, turn on the lights, lock or unlock the doors and more.  I've always thought that this type of technology is too readily accepted with no thought as to the consequences of the wrong people getting control of it.  So when The Steel Kiss, the latest novel in Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series featured this technology turned against people by a serial killer, I knew I had to get my hands on this book!

                The Steel Kiss finds former NYPD crime scene investigator Lincoln Rhyme retired from the consultant job he began some time after a crime scene accident caused him to become a paraplegic.  He now teaches the fundamentals of crime scene investigation to future criminalists.  NYPD Detective Amelia Sachs, his investigative partner and lover, is angry with his decision to turn away from crime investigation thanks to a mistake that ended with the death of a suspect.  There's is a special relationship, one of give and take, especially when investigating a crime scene and the evidence collected from it. 

                And never could she use that give and take more than now, working this murder case - a young blogger bludgeoned with a ball peen hammer seemingly randomly.  Just as she is about to catch up to their suspect in the mall, an unforeseen and deadly accident occurs - a man falls into the gears of an escalator and, despite all of Sachs' attempts, dies.  With no criminal charges to be filed, the case heads off to a lawyer for a wrongful death suit.  Guess who that lawyer hires to conduct an investigation into the mishap?  Yup, Lincoln.

                Meanwhile, Amelia is struggling to deal with the return of her ex-lover, recently released from prison and claiming his innocence; her uniformed investigator distracted by his own personal drama; the loss of her best forensic scientist to her current lover's case and another murder committed by her perp.  As the investigation moves forward and it becomes clear that the killer is using remote technology against his victims, Amelia begins to realize that her case and Lincoln's are one and the same.  Can the best minds in crime scene investigation figure out what the serial murderer is up to and what piece of technology he is going to use next before he murders yet another innocent victim?

                Before hearing about The Steel Kiss, I had thought that Jeffery Deaver was done writing Lincoln Rhyme novels.  I figured he had gone everywhere he could go with this character and that he had decided to move on.  Being a huge fan of the series, I was delighted to hear that this was not the case, but I was also worried.  Though I had liked his last novel, The Skin Collector, I had found some points that I hadn't enjoyed and this made me wonder if the series was going stale for me.  The Steel Kiss changed all of that!  I was so engrossed in this novel that I couldn't put it down!

                First of all, it involved the misuse of the very technology that I had been leery of - to see that someone else, a famous writer no less, had also seen the nefarious possibilities was invigorating.  Someone else saw what I saw and made my worries feel more rational.  Second, there were multiple side stories in this novel, meaning multiple mysteries to solve.  Third, and this is going to sound strange, but I really enjoyed this particular perp.  I loved that we got to see things through his eyes, but only so much - a tactic that Mr. Deaver uses very well when plying his hand at misdirection. 

                And that is what I loved most about this book - the misdirection.  Every time you though you had something figured out, you realized you were on the wrong track or you had misinterpreted something based on lack of information or supposition.  Oh how frustrating and utterly fantastic!  This is exactly what I crave in a thriller and Jeffery Deaver certainly delivers, once again proving that he is the king of the thriller genre. 

                Other things I enjoyed about The Steel Kiss:

                The way in which Amelia's ex, Nick's, character is handled.  It could have gone  either way, but I liked this ending best.

                The smaller use of characters in this book.  Jeffery Deaver was starting to introduce more and more experts into the Rhyme series and it was starting to feel like there were more characters in each book than necessary.  That slows up here.  Though we do get to see a few of the formerly introduced experts again this time around, they don't really have huge roles here.

                The latest edition to the novel is quite an interesting character.  In his new intern, Juliette Archer, is refreshing - she's new to the field, but not new to investigations and handles her mentor well.  Picture Amelia Sachs' attitude toward Lincoln in The Bone Collector packaged in a woman stuck in a wheelchair with a highly active and well-educated mind.  

                To sum things up, The Steel Kiss is everything I could have asked for from Jeffery Deaver and more.  It's an amazing rollercoaster ride comprised of three separate but intertwined stories, featuring an intriguing serial killer with an equally intriguing killing style, twists and turns at every step, misdirection everywhere you turn and characters you can't help but love and become invested in.  Thank you, Mr. Deaver, for breathing new life into my favorite mystery/thriller series!


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