Mystery / Suspense

The Twelfth Card
A Lincoln Rhyme Novel

Written by: Jeffery Deaver

Published By: Pocket Books - A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


           Over the years, I have often sung my praises about suspense writer Jeffery Deaver.  Though he has over twenty novels and two compilations of short stories out there, my favorites will always be the books in the Lincoln Rhyme series.  For those of you who don’t know, the whole story began with The Bone Collector.  Lincoln Rhyme was once the head of a top notch criminal investigations unit in New York.  After suffering a near fatal accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down with limited use of his left ring finger, Rhyme believes that his career is over and that his life might as well be.  However, Rhyme soon finds that he is wrong on both counts.  His forensic expertise is sought out far and wide by police departments everywhere.  During his first case since the accident (The Bone Collector), Rhyme meets Patrolwoman Amelia Sachs who becomes his eyes and legs at crime scene locations, walking the grid, collecting evidence and relating all she observes at crime scenes.  The two soon form a special relationship outside of the professional one, Sachs seeing past Rhyme’s handicap and through his tough exterior. 

            In The Twelfth Card, Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are called upon for a rather unusual case.  Sixteen-year-old Geneva Settle never expected to be attacked while conducting research on one of her ancestors in the African-American Museum in New York, but that’s exactly what happened.  Thanks to her quick thinking, the attack was foiled, but the attacker didn’t leave without causing some damage.  To affect his escape, he shoots two people, killing one.  Now, Lincoln Rhyme, Amelia Sachs, Detective Lon Sellitto and a host of others are hot on the trail of a killer whose motive may be an incident involving a crime committed over a century ago. 

            There is a secondary story here that I think is extremely important to the series.  Jeffery Deaver hints at it through the dedication page – “To the memory of Christopher Reeve, a lesson in courage, a symbol of hope.”  We learn that Lincoln Rhyme has found new hope via an experimental program used to stimulate his long-unused muscles.  A leading doctor in the field of spinal chord injuries has placed Rhyme in an exercise program involving functional electrical stimulation and aquatherapy.  The focus of this experiment is to get Rhyme healthier – build up his lungs, heart, muscle mass, and bone density.  However, Rhyme keeps stalling when it comes to taking tests to see how much he has improved.  What exactly is Rhyme afraid of?

            As always with any Jeffery Deaver novel, I was held captivated by the story.  This novel was different in that Rhyme and Sachs are not trying to catch a serial killer.  This suspect’s focus is one person – Geneva Settle.  Their job is to uncover evidence that reveals the suspect’s identity and simultaneously predict his next move, thus preventing him from reaching his ultimate goal, the death of a sixteen-year-old high school student.  In the process, they must solve a case that occurred over a century ago.  I loved reading about the ancestor, a freed slave who is accused of having robbed the Freedman’s Trust Fund.  Like Geneva, there is quite a bit more to this character than it seems. 

            The character of Geneva Settle is extremely complex.  One can certainly see from the very beginning of the novel that Geneva is one very intelligent young lady.  However, there is nothing to prepare you for the secret she’s been hiding for so many years – a secret that she even manages to hide from Rhyme and his team for a time.  When the truth comes out, the reader is wholly unprepared for it. 

            That’s one of the terrific things about this novel!  There are so many twists and turns, the story throws the reader for a complete loop.  Just when you think you know exactly what is going on – WHAM! – another twist in the plot that has you completely turned around.  People who you thought were friends turn out to be enemies and vice versa.  Motives, once so clear, become cloudy and ill-conceived.  Even Rhyme is stymied for a while.  And just when you think the mystery is solved, guess what – another twist!

            This book is total fun from page one.  The mystery is engaging; the action non-stop.  The writing is terrific.  We see things from several vastly different characters’ points of view.  Even the ending is incredible.  I don’t want to give it away, but let’s just say that it is extremely well written and offers readers a surprise and a half!  At over 500 pages, the book may seem daunting at first, but once begun, one can hardly put the book back down.  The daunting read becomes a thing of ease.  Serious kudos to Jeffery Deaver who continues to amaze me with his suspense-filled novels!  The Twelfth Card is a must read for any Lincoln Rhyme fan – I think it is quite possibly the best book in the series – but the story will definitely intrigue anyone who has never read one book in the Lincoln Rhyme series.    



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