The Steel Kiss by Jeffery Deaver

The Steel Kiss is the first Jeffery Deaver book I’ve read in too long a while. Having first come to Mr. Deaver’s writing through his excellent short story collections (Twisted and More Twisted), I’m also technically six books into the Lincoln Rhyme series. But when The Steel Kiss, twelfth in the series, showed up as a Kindle Daily Deal, frankly it would have been rude not to.

It’s very rare that I read a series out of order, but I went ahead and took the plunge. To begin with, I was a little worried about the non-appearance of previous regular recurring characters. Had something terrible happened in the interim to Lincoln’s former partner Lon Sellitto? (A man described so frequently as ‘rumpled’ that he must almost give Remus Lupin and his notoriously ‘threadbare’ appearance a run for his money). Not to mention, where was skilled undercover FBI agent Fred Dellray, and SWAT team leader Bo Haumann? And most worrying of all, where were the constant twists, false turns and red herrings that Deaver is so very, very skilled at?

I needn’t have worried. The Steel Kiss was more of a slow burn than other of Deaver’s thrillers, but the ending still left me completely blindsided, which is always wonderful. Here, Rhyme and his partner Amelia Sachs take on a criminal who sabotages Smart appliances (escalators, ovens, microwaves etc) to kill and cause mass panic. As someone who is already afraid of escalators, reading the opening chapters in which a man falls inside one and is crushed/sliced to death by it was… certainly an experience!

There’s definitely a wrong-footed feeling to The Steel Kiss – Lincoln and Amelia spend much of the novel apart, seemingly estranged by Rhyme’s decision to retire from criminal work. There are a lot of sub-plots at play, centred around the re-appearance of Amelia’s former lover Nick Carelli, and the emergence of a new and powerful street drug. All in all though, the masterfully crafted ending made this an entirely worthwhile read for me, and reiterated that Jeffrey Deaver truly is the mastermind of misdirection.

[Read from 13-26 April 2017]

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