The only leads in a broad-daylight kidnapping are the account of an eight-year-old girl, some nearly invisible trace evidence and the calling card: a miniature noose left lying on the street. A crime scene this puzzling demands forensic expertise of the highest order. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are called in to investigate.
Then the case takes a stranger turn: a recording surfaces of the victim being slowly hanged, his desperate gasps the backdrop to an eerie piece of music. The video is marked as the work of The Composer...
Despite their best efforts, the suspect gets away. So when a similar kidnapping occurs on a dusty road outside Naples, Rhyme and Sachs don't hesitate to rejoin the hunt. But the search is now a complex case of international cooperation - and not all those involved may be who they seem. All they can do is follow the evidence, before their time runs out.
What I liked: Mr. Deaver opens The Burial Hour as he usually does with some kind of enigmatic event taking place and then leads into the crime and evidence discovery. I always feel like I started reading the book in the middle but it is an extremely effective tool in this series.
The synopsis reveals the case Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are trying to solve and the criminal they are after, The Composer. While he slips through their hands in New York, they are finally able to get back on the hunt after he commits a similar crime in Italy. That’s where The Burial Hour begins to depart from what I normally expect. Rhyme, Sachs and Thom Reston, Lincoln’s caregiver, fly to Italy so Lincoln and Sachs can insert themselves into the investigation.
The Italian police handling the kidnapping of a refugee are not necessarily welcoming Rhyme’s interference but Rhyme knows which buttons to push and mostly gets what he wants. Mr. Deaver acknowledges in the Author’s Note at the very beginning that the Italian law agencies Rhyme is dealing with, do, in fact exist but also indicates some of the procedures were not exactly the norm for those authorities. That’s what kept my interest to a great degree, the how and the why and the who handled specific crimes within Italy’s law enforcement. The budding star on the Italian side is a young State Forestry Corps agent, Ercole Benelli, who gets drawn into the investigation. Evidently in Italy the prosecutor for the area is also an important component of the investigation process, along with the lead from the Police of State. In this case, the characters are Detective Inspector Masimo Rossi (a highly-respected member of The Police of State) and Dante Spiro, the senior prosecutor in Naples. They also have their teams similar to the ones Rhyme are used to working with including something like a CSI and laboratory agents along with what I would liken to a SWAT team. But to me, Ercole is the star. Rossi decides to include him when he shows promise at the kidnapping scene and consequently has a pretty good grasp of crime scene procedures. Now you’re probably wondering why I am talking about this so much and this is why. The interactions between all the Italian cast with Rhyme and Sachs is written brilliantly enough to almost put the kidnapping in the back seat. The by-play between Sachs and Benelli is sometimes instructive, like mentor to student and sometimes just funny. Yep, I loved Benelli’s character!
Rhyme and Sachs also get drawn into another case where an American studying in Italy is accused of rape and the American Consulate need their help to find the truth. This part of the story reveals how the laws work in Italy and showcases how their legal system works.
Another way in which The Burial Hour diverges from other Rhyme books is the intensity. Usually it’s hold your breath action with many close calls for the characters. Such in not the case and I enjoyed it. There are a few extreme moments but they don’t overpower the characters, the procedures and the mystery. I also found The Composer to be a tremendously compelling character. The reader gets the chance to get a very in-depth look at his thoughts and his psyche and when reading his point of view, I didn’t get the normally ominous feeling I get for Mr. Deaver’s bad guys.
Essentially what I really enjoyed were the characters, their interactions with each other, a dollop of humor and the extensively researched Italian law enforcement, Italian history, and the main setting in Naples. I also enjoyed Rhyme trying to convince Thom that Greenland would be a fantastic place for Rhyme and Sachs’ honeymoon.
What I didn’t like: For me, this wasn’t a problem but some Deaver readers might find the pacing slower than normal and get a bit frustrated with all Mr. Deaver’s wild herrings but I liked it.
The ending also opens several possibilities in the continuation of the Lincoln Rhyme series. I wonder if the next book will include some wedding ceremony flashbacks?
Yes, the e-book is expensive at $14.99 but since I collect this series, I forked the money over. Of course, when the mass market paperback releases, the e-book prices will drop so I guess I leave it up to you, buy or borrow.