I occasionally forget that I’m into certain series and genres, and a recent pondering of a book to read led me to rekindle my interest in thrilling crime drama, and especially that in Jeffrey Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series. Thusly, I picked up the third book in the series, The Empty Chair, and dived in.
I was expecting a taut, thrilling story and wasn’t disappointed. A prevalent theme of The Empty Chair was that Rhyme, the acerbic protagonist and his assistant Amelia Sachs were “fishes out of water” as they reluctantly investigated a series of grim disappearances in North Carolina, a state very far away from their New York base, both geographically and culturally.
The atmosphere of the initial investigation – pitting local detectives aided by Rhyme from the confines of a municipality building against the young abductee whose apparent intelligence and cunning seems to put him ahead at every instance, despite the odds – is chilling as we follow both parties through the swamplands around the small town of Tanner’s Corner in North Carolina. The story appears to reach a climax relatively early on… but there’s 45% of the book left to go, and a series of intriguing and elegantly-countered plot twists piques the intrigue, punctuated with some absolutely thrilling action sequences leaving the outcome at the flip of a page. I thought it was great, although the inevitable explanation of the plot twist was a little trite and predictably polemic.
In terms of the series it moved the character development along rather nicely. Rhyme, a quadriplegic lamenting the limitations of his disability had planned on undergoing exotic and risky surgical therapy to possibly alleviate this condition and is eager to leave the investigation he reluctantly agrees to whereas Sachs is sceptical of this procedure’s chances of success and worried for the future of someone she has grown to care for and even love, not wanting the procedure to put him in any undue risk. It’s an intriguing thread prevalent throughout the book which grounds the main crime, which may be a little dry, with a more human thread that keeps the reader caring about the characters as going concerns. The title of the book is not just an allusion to a means of psychological therapy used in the investigation but as a proxy for Rhyme’s desire to be freed from the confines of his wheelchair and his desperate attempts to make his appointment.
Overall, reading The Empty Chair wasn’t a disappointment, and I look forward to indulging in the next in the series. I’m also definitely tempted to get a more regular reading schedule going to make sure good series and genres that I enjoy don’t go unread for so long!
Grab The Empty Chair for Kindle here!