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The Empty Chair

Book cover

I haven’t finished the Hornby book yet but I’ve normally got several volumes on the go at once. Last night I completed The Empty Chair, my first reading from the Lincoln Rhyme series by Jeffery Deaver.

Overall, it was an effective and well-written thriller. One observation is that so many of the characters and places have significance to the plot that it is very hard to say much about it at all without giving something away. It starts with Lincoln and his assistants travelling to a specialist medical centre in Carolina; one of the characteristics that marks him out from other fictional detectives is that he’s a paraplegic, seriously injured in an earlier accident (book one of the series?). They are there for an operation that may restore some of his mobility but even the “empty chair” of the title turns out to be a twist.

If I have a criticism of the novel, it is that it turns too much on sudden twists. There will be an apparently impossible situation but, when you start the next chapter, you discover (perhaps after a few paragraphs of misdirection) that some unexpected factor intervened and there is more happening than you thought. In some ways, this is the raison d’etre of a detective thriller but I was left feeling that they were too many and too sudden.

As a result, it feels cheap; a sleight of hand trick that is repeated again and again with consummate skill but leaving you feeling stupid rather than stirring your sense of wonder. I’ll definitely look out for more books in the series but I hope some of them drive a more gently arcing road.

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