Scene: This story takes place in New York City, New York in the mid 90’s. While the UN conference is in town, a series of kidnappings has erupted and it’s up to a team of forensic scientists to follow the clues and find the killer.
Theme: People who never give up what they started will always accomplish his/her goal.
Key Persons: Lincoln Rhyme, once a famous NYPD “criminalist” who is now a quadriplegic is brought back to work; Amelia Sachs, daughter of a beat cop who is first officer of the first kidnapping making her involved in the whole investigation; Lon Selitto, Lincoln’s former partner; Jerry Banks, Selitto’s partner; Mel Cooper, computer and science genius; Jim Polling, NYPD command chief; Fred Dellray, FBI commander; Dr. Berger, Lincoln’s euthanasia doctor; Thom, Lincoln’s aide; Dr. Peter Taylor, Lincoln’s spine doctor.
1. After learning of a possible kidnapping, patrolwoman Amelia Sachs gets a dispatch about a homicide near “Thirty Seventh near Eleventh”. She finds a dead body dug roughly in a grave. To protect the scene, she does all humanly possible to prevent any type of contamination.
2. Lincoln Rhyme, former head of Central Investigation and Resource Division, is persuaded by Lon Selitto and his partner to help the kidnapping investigation. In the mean time, the “Bone Collector” abducts another victim.
3. Being a quadriplegic, a person who is paralyzed from the waste down, Lincoln Rhyme wants to commit suicide. He hires Dr. Berger to help him with the suicide.
4. Rhyme assembles his forensic team to begin the investigation. On the team, he assigned Amelia Sachs, Mel Cooper, Lon Selitto, and Jerry Banks to the case. As they begin the investigation, the bone collector is torturing his captive.
5. Given the clues left by the scene, Rhyme figures where the captive, known as T.J Colfax, is. He sends Sachs over to the scene before T.J meets her fate. But by the time she arrives, it is too late. Colfax is found boiled to death by hot steam blown in her face. Through this horrific ordeal, Rhyme, as tranquil as ever, makes Sachs do her first Crime Scene Investigation. She finds more clues left by the bone collector.
6. As the first investigation is coming to a close, the bone collector is seen scraping the flesh off one of his victims’ fingers; polishing it to the bone. He begins reading this book about a dead serial killer, James Schneider, who was also a “bone collector”. He reads about one of Schneider’s victims, a German woman named Hanna. The bone collector mistakes his most recent victim, an immigrant named Monelle Greger, as this woman Hanna. Psychological issues are clearly present.
7. Already knowing another victim has been captured, Rhyme gets ahead on the next set clues to figure out where this victim is hidden. Body hair, veal bones, foot prints, the clues left before, and Rhyme’s genius leads him to believe that the victim is in a tunnel. Amelia Sachs runs to the scene to see Monelle Greger tied up, wounded, and about to be marauded by a swarm of filthy rats. Amelia salvages her from the rodents, but not before protecting the scene.
8. A shaken, horrified Monelle Greger was no help to the investigation. Amelia once again identified the planted clues and delivered it to Rhyme. During this time, FBI has been on full watch of the UN conference that is taking place in New York City. FBI captain, Fred Dellray, learns from his central informant that something is going to take place at the conference. Dellray, informed of the recent kidnappings in the city, wants to take the case over NYPD for a possible terrorist attack. Dellray storms into Rhymes’ operation and takes over all the evidence and progress that the team has made. A heart broken Lincoln Rhyme, Lon Selitto, and Jerry Banks go off and drink through the night.
9. Amelia Sachs, knowing the bone collector has another captive, steals the evidence from Dellray. Surprised by Amelia’s actions, Rhyme gets back on the case. Figures out that the next victim is tied to a pier. Amelia saves the day with little time to spare. Dellray tries to arrest Amelia but Jim Polling and the District Attorney order her to be free and let the investigation be controlled by the NYPD forensics team. Rhyme, happy about the news, gets back to work freely.
10. Through the story, Rhyme shows signs of being suicidal. He tells Amelia when the investigation is over, he is going to go through with the euthanasia procedure to end his living misery. She becomes outrage of the idea of him killing himself. His argument was based solely upon that he was lonely and that he can not even move his body. Though heart broken, Amelia agrees to let him kill himself only through the succession of finishing the investigation. Lincoln agrees.
11. As the clues piece together, Lincoln gets a visit from Polling. Lincoln begins to think that Polling is the kidnapper! As he is talking to Polling, Lincoln’s spine doctor, Dr. Peter Taylor, arrives to the door. Taylor greets Polling and shakes his hand. Lincoln seeing a major clue, a crescent shaped scar of the finger, on Taylor’s finger realizes that his doctor is the killer. Taylor stabs Polling to death as he explains his actions to Rhyme.
12. Taylor justifies his actions from an investigation a long time ago when Lincoln let the killing of Taylor’s family happen in front of him in Chinatown. James Schneider, the character from the book Taylor had read, was involved in the same situation when he was a child; losing his family. Taylor then threatens to kill Rhymes partners and Amelia. As Taylor drew closer to Rhyme, rhyme sprang up and began to bite on his carotid artery on his neck. Taylor was struggling to get free but Rhyme had a firm and vicious grip. Taylor died from loss of blood.
13. Amelia and Selitto come to scene and witness what has just happened. The case is solved and it is time for Rhyme’s suicide. Amelia volunteered to help with his suicide. As he was about to consume the pill, Selitto came rushing up the stairs. He tells rhyme that there was an explosion at the UN conference and the FBI wants him to lead the case. They found out the person responsible was ironically one of the victims they saved in the investigation! Looking at Amelia smiling, he says, “Only on some conditions…I don’t work alone.”
Lincoln Rhyme makes a reference of a family of falcons that nests near his windowsill saying, “I’m looking at the only living creature in New York City that has no predator. Except maybe God Himself.” The bone collector is the falcon and Rhyme is “God”. If it wasn’t for the help of Rhyme, the investigation would have gone no where with any leads. Rhyme was the key factor to the successful bring down of the criminal.
I recommend this book to anyone who has great interest in mystery and forensic science. This book was a true thriller and a “page-turner”. The story line will make you keep guessing to the final page of the novel. Jeffrey Deaver is a master of these mystery/crime investigation style novels. He is well informative of the type of equipment, lingo, scenarios etc. used in crime scene investigations. I can truthfully say that this novel is one of my favorite of all time.