I became a Jeffery Deaver fan by total happenstance, which isn’t something you can say about most authors. Back around 2007, when I was a student at Edinburgh University, I wandered into my local Waterstones and happened to hit the very tail end of a signing for The Sleeping Doll – the first in Deaver’s Kathryn Dance series. Deaver couldn’t have been more charming – happy to pose for photos and answer questions – and I went away with the beginnings of a new obsession tucked under my arm.
The Burial Hour is the thirteenth in Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series, about a forensic consultant with quadriplegia, and his NYPD detective partner Amelia Sachs. This novel follows them from New York to Italy, in search of a criminal who records his victims dying breaths’ as part of a sinister murder symphony.
Taking beloved characters away from their home turf is always a risky endeavor, but here it entirely pays off. Deaver introduces a new cast of supporting characters within Italian law enforcement – none more central nor more endearing than Forestry Corps officer Ercole Benelli. Although the lowest ranked official on the case, Ercole has enthusiasm and earnestness in droves. As our window into this new world, he’s an appealing entry-point, and keeps the absence of regular recurring characters from feeling alienating.
The plot – as usual with Deaver – is fiendishly clever. Alongside the audiophile kidnapper, the novel encompasses immigration, espionage, rape allegations, and a dastardly truffle smuggler. The description of Naples (particularly the food) is sublime, and while this is hardly your usual holiday book, it definitely took me far and away from chilly, overcast England.
Twists and turns come thick and fast toward the final stretch, which is always the point of a Deaver book I enjoy most. However smugly I tell myself that this time I’ve seen through the subterfuge and know exactly what is going on – lo and behold, I never do. And I love the satisfaction of being well and truly caught out.
The only thing really missing here is interaction between Lincoln and Amelia. They were apart for much of the previous novel, The Steel Kiss, and while The Burial Hour does take them closer towards their impending marriage, almost all of their dialogue focuses exclusively on the case. I know I’m in it for the crime thriller and not the romance, but sheesh, throw a girl a kiss from time to time.
Overall, The Burial Hour is a highly enjoyable read – as excellent a thriller as it is a piece of escapism. And if that isn’t enough of an incentive, there’s even a Spotify soundtrack to read along to. Just imagine the classical tracks accompanied by the breathless gasps of victims and prepare to be thoroughly creeped out.
My sincere thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley. I’m honoured to be part of the blog tour for The Burial Hour: be sure to check out the reviews from my fellow bloggers!
[Read from 30 April – 6 May 2017]