Ms. Bookish’s Quick Take: The Broken Window is a wild ride of a novel, fast-paced and engrossing. The plot line is very credible; I know I started using my paper shredder more after reading the novel! It’s my first Lincoln Rhyme novel, and I found myself liking both the logical Lincoln Rhyme, a forensic consultant, and his partner and lover, Detective Amanda Sachs. The Lincoln Rhyme novels are a series, but this didn’t prevent me from enjoying dipping into the series via the latest book; The Broken Window works well as a standalone novel, although of course I now have all the earlier Rhyme novels on my to-be-read list. See below for the full review.
From the jacket flap:
Lincoln Rhyme and partner/paramour Amelia Sachs return to face a criminal whose ingenious staging of crimes is enabled by a terrifying access to information …
When Lincoln’s estranged cousin Arthur Rhyme is arrested on murder charges, the case is perfect – too perfect. Forensic evidence from Arthur’s home is found all over the scene of the crime, and it looks like the fate of Lincoln’s relative is sealed.
At the behest of Arthur’s wife, Judy, Lincoln grudgingly agrees to investigate the case. Soon Lincoln and Amelia uncover a string of similar murders and rapes with perpetrators claiming innocence and ignorance – despite ironclad evidence at the scenes of the crime. Rhyme’s team realizes this “perfect” evidence may actually be the result of masterful identity theft and manipulation.
An information service company – the huge data miner Strategic Systems Datacorp – seems to have all the answers but is reluctant to help the police. Still, Rhyme and Sachs and their assembled tteam begin uncovering a chilling pattern of vicious crimes and coverups, and their investigation points to one master criminal, whom they dub “522”.
When “522” learns the identities of the crime-fighting team, the hunters become the hunted
Full Review of The Broken Window
As I mentioned in my Quick Take above, The Broken Window is the first Lincoln Rhyme mystery I’ve read, so I can say, definitively, that you don’t have to have read any of the earlier Lincoln Rhyme novels to enjoy this one.
The plot line in the Broken Window is rather chilling: a master criminal is able to access and manipulate an incredible motherlode of data about any person he chooses, and using this information, he commits the perfect crime. Several perfect crimes, in fact. Innocent people end up in jail while he remains free to do more damage.
The whole data-and-identity aspect is a very plausible premise and after reading the novel, I personally began putting my office paper shredder to good use. Not that such precautionary actions really help much; as the novel progresses you discover exactly how much information there is about you out there, much of it gathered via the Internet and not your personal trash can.
I like crime novels where there’s a team of protagonists working together – lone wolves don’t thrill me as much. Rhyme has assembled a great team of professionals around him. They’re all cops (with the exception of Thom, Rhyme’s personal attendant), so there’s a police procedural aspect to the novel, which I also enjoyed.
The action in The Broken Window is fast-paced and towards the end of the book, extremely exciting. I read the book in one breathless gallop (or so it seemed), and was quite surprised by the identity of the murderer at the end. Another plus, that.
As you can tell by the jacket blurb, towards the end things get dicey for Rhyme and his team, with “522” targeting each member of the team. Normally, this would put me off a novel, ever so slightly. When it comes to crime thrillers, I do prefer my heroes to have a little bit of a superhuman edge – in other words, I prefer crime novels where the protagonist isn’t endangered because the killer decides to go after him or her, especially in novels where the hero is a person in authority, as opposed to an amateur sleuth. I just find that it strains my credibility somewhat, since the logical conclusion is that, given the official nature of the investigation, there’s always going to be someone else to step into the protagonist’s shoes should the murderer “get” him or her, so what’s the point? But Deaver makes the whole scenario quite plausible, basing it on both the villain’s personality and also his own seeming invincibility.
There’s also an interesting personal conflict going on between Rhyme and his cousin Arthur; I found it enhanced my perception of Rhyme, and the resolution of the conflict, at the very end of the book, was satisfying.