The first book in a mystery series.

Publication year: 1997
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 1998
Format: print
Finnish translator: Ilkka Rekiaho
Page count: 447
Finnish Publisher: Otava

Amelia Sachs is the daughter of a police officer and she’s a patrolling police officer, too, like her father. However, she suffers from arthritis even though she’s just over thirty years old. So, she has asked a transfer into public relations department. But on her last day, she finds serial killer’s victim who has been buried alive. To preserve the crime scene, Sachs stops trains and even traffic on a nearby avenue. However, her supervisor later tells her that she was wrong because she delayed important people from getting to their destinations.

Lincoln Rhyme was one of the best forensics experts in New York before he was paralyzed from the neck down. Now, he’s confined to bed and strongly thinking of killing himself. However, his former partner convinces him to consult on this case. Because Rhyme can’t inspect the scenes himself, he wants a partner who can, and he wants Sachs because she wasn’t afraid to protect the scene and because she’s new to forensics. Sachs agrees, but reluctantly.

Sachs is very beautiful but her arthritis stopped her from becoming a model, so instead she became a beat cop. But she’s not happy with that, either, because reality isn’t like in her father’s stories. She’s determined and headstrong. At first she loathes Rhyme but during the story she starts to respect him and even defend his methods. Unfortunately, the book takes about two days, that’s a very short time for such a change of opinion.

Rhyme was a rude man even before his accident and now he’s even more unlikable. At the start of the book, he has contacted a doctor who might help him to die but then Rhyme starts to get interested in the case. He doesn’t care about the victims, just about the evidence and piecing the puzzle together. In fact, he’s a lot like House or rather because the book was written before House M.D. aired, House is a lot like him.

In addition to these two characters, there is Ryhme’s long-suffering assistant Thom who stays with him even though Rhyme is very dismissive towards him. Ryhme’s ex-wife Blaine is mentioned a few times. Lon Sellitto is Rhyme’s former partner. He has an explosive temper but he’s careful around Rhyme. Unfortunately, the rest of the characters don’t have much of a personality. The best example are two detectives who look exactly the same and even finish each others sentences. They aren’t related.

The plot is very fast-paced and has a lot of twists. Unfortunately for me, the victims are also POV characters and we are shown how the killer tortures them beforehand. Some of the scenes are quite gruesome. I also think that the speed which everything happens is unrealistic. The serial killer/kidnapper seems to kidnap new victims very few hours and the laboratory test results also appear very fast.

The murderer was fascinated with New York’s history and we get to know a little bit of New York’s past. I liked that the most in this book. I also really liked the clues table which is included every couple of chapters. There the reader sees the clues which the detectives have. I’m somewhat surprised no other mystery author uses it.