The Cold Moon is Jeffery Deaver’s latest Lincoln Rhyme novel. Unless you’re an avid follower of Deaver’s extremely intelligent quadriplegic criminologist Rhyme and his longtime partner and love, Detective Amelia Sachs, you’re perhaps most likely to know about them from having watch the flick The Bone Collector, based on Deaver’s book by the same name starring respectively Denzel Washington as Lincoln Rhyme and Angelina Jolie as Amelia Sachs. This book is likely the best in the series since then. It would be great to see the two actors team up in a movie based on The Cold Moon.
The Cold Moon is full of Jeffery Deaver’s patented twists & turns, and it kept me up late reading it. The novel involves three cases that are inexorably linked together, though at first Rhyme, Sachs, and the readers only know about two of them. The first case both Rhyme and Sachs are officially on together, that of a (supposed) serial killer who calls himself “the Watchmaker.” The second case is initially Sachs’ alone: a murder made to look as if it’s a suicide and the smell of dirty cops. The third involves domestic terrorism. The Allerton family hires Gerry Duncan - “the Watchmaker” - a.k.a. Charles Hanes, to send a message to Washington by bombing the HUD building when it’s full of military brass and soldiers who want to re-enlist for Iraq.
Suspense, action, and complications abound within each of these plots. The cast of extant characters is fairly large, and new face Kathryn Dance, a kinesics expert from the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), is introduced (kinesics is the science of reading body language and verbal clues to tell whether a person is telling the truth). At first, Rhyme isn’t sure what to think of her. He has always relied on concrete facts based on the forensic evidence of a crime scene, but he warms up to Dance when her assistance proves invaluable.
While I did enjoy The Cold Moon, the various plots are convoluted; the reader needs to be willing to swallow a lot. One problem I encountered (spoilers ahead) is that either the chronology involved in the first two cases is screwed up, or when Duncan is talking to Rhyme on about how he got the idea to pretend to be a serial killer after having been “hired” by dirty cop Dennis Baker, he is lying about the sequence of events to Rhyme and Rhyme doesn’t catch him on this lie.
Of these two choices, knowing that Duncan/Hanes was really only working for the Allertons, the latter is the less egregious. If the chronology of events is messed up, the fault lies with Jeffery Deaver, and I don’t think he would have allowed this to get past him. The second choice, that Duncan/Hanes is lying to Rhyme, is more believable, especially since he’s lied to Rhyme about other aspects of his serial killer pretense. However, with Rhyme not knowing at this point who really hired Duncan/Hanes but knowing that the case involving the Watchmaker’s first two “victims” occurred before Sachs got to the crime scene of the second case, Rhyme should have told Duncan/Hanes something like: “You’re not telling me the truth about when you got the idea to be the Watchmaker.” If he’d done so, he would have likely discovered the Watchmaker was lying about many other things much sooner than he eventually does.
Enough grousing. While this apparent lapse in Rhyme’s usual analytical nature is bothersome, the rest of the book is pretty good, taking the story in a totally different direction - though one related to the first two cases. Anyone who has read the Lincoln Rhyme series faithfully should find The Cold Moon to be one of the best books in the series; anyone who loves this genre will also like this novel.