Reviewed by Jack Stanton
Folks, this is a big one. Go to your local bookstore. Cancel any weekend plans. Assemble your reading comforts. Why? Because Jeffery Deaver is one of the masters of crime and mystery writing, and his latest book The Burial Hour is an absolute treat.
It’s another instalment in his most popular and well-regarded series, which follows Lincoln Rhyme, a quadriplegic detective. Inside these pages is everything you could ever want from a searing thriller: mystery twists, astute, and – put plainly – the joy of reading a master at work.
In The Burial Hour, a man is kidnapped in broad daylight off a New York street, and the only thing left behind at the scene of the crime is a hangman’s noose. Not long after a live stream on the internet shows a man with a bag over his face being strangled to death – with exactly the same noose. Eeriest of all, music plays over the top.
The criminal is swiftly labelled ‘The Composer’ due to an obvious affinity with music . . . but why is he playing The Blue Danube over a slow strangulation? It’s a cruel affair to say the least. The culprit dangles his victim with just enough height for him to stand on his toes, but one muscle cramp, one slip, will end his life. It’s up to detective Lincoln Rhyme to unearth the plot and figure out the culprit’s identity and the location of the hanging. And although he does manage to save the victim (this time) the perpetrator gets away. What detective Rhyme finds in the abandoned warehouse is a plastic bag containing two more nooses. And all of a sudden everyone knows that, whoever the Composer is, he’s just getting started.
But what is the mystery murderer’s motive anyway? Is he acting out alone? Or does this crime go far deeper than anything Rhyme has dealt with before?
Things only get worse, of course, when a hangman’s noose is found at a crime scene – in Naples, Italy, of all places, after a public abduction at a bus stop . . . Is it a copycat criminal? It couldn’t be. Everything at the scene is eerily uncanny. But it couldn’t be . . . They’re going to need the perceptive expertise of Lincoln Rhyme on board, before things get even more disastrous.
But what is it exactly that makes The Burial Hour such a standout book? It’s Jeffery Deaver’s unapologetic talent. He is so good at what he does. He can tell a story with enough twists and turns to leave you helplessly tied in knots. The Herald dubbed him ‘the king of suspense’ and The Burial Hour demonstrates exactly why. Every chapter is tight, energetic, and alive, leaving a little clue or twist at the end, springboarding the reader straight into the next one. And of course the book is ambitious, sprawling across continents and characters with masterful handle. 2017 has already been an inspiring year of crime thrillers, but The Burial Hour has just turned up the heat – and I dare the rest of the crime world to top it.
Jeffery Deaver is the bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the 2011 authorised James Bond thriller, Carte Blanche, as well as three collections of short stories and a non-fiction law book. The Burial Hour is the thirteenth Lincoln Rhyme thriller.