Forensic detective Lincoln Rhyme tracks a serial killer who murders his victims with a poisoned tattoo. Being in a wheelchair didn't stop police forensic detective Lincoln Rhyme from tracking down the so-called "Bone Collector" a number of years ago. It's the case that made his public career and those were crimes that also inspired a lot of copy-cat crimes. But none of them have been as nefarious or evil as whomever is behind a string of murders that target what seem to be random strangers. A string of people are kidnapped, tattoed with an ink that also includes a poison and left partly hidden in the bowels of New York City.
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But despite the brutal nature of the crimes. Rhyme is confused by the motive. There doesn't seem to be one, other than a reason to taunt the investigative skills of him and his squad. And when his chief investigator (and lover) Amelia Sachs is poisoned while investigating on the scenes, Rhyme takes it personally. He also takes it personally when someone manages to sneak into his office and poison his favorite bottle of scotch.
The killings continue and at the same time they uncover the possibility that the crimes might be connected in a way they hadn't expected. While the vicitms may not have a connection, the locations do and it points to a plot to poison the drinking water of New York City. Rhyme and Amelia manage to figure out a problem location for the next murder and set a trap for the murderer. But he anticipates their move and the police trap only manages to kill a homeless man the killer recruited as a patsy.
Rhyme connects the terrorist plot with a small white supremist group, but still can't make all the connections. What he doesn't realize is that the man who has been doing the killings has also been dating the sister of Amelia Sachs as a way of getting close to Rhyme and in order to monitor the investigation. And until the very end, he doesn't realize the group is being used by an old foe named The Watchmaker, who promised to kill Rhyme for them as a way of making their crimes easier to accomplish. While Rhyme and the police are able to stop the family and the murders, the Watchmaker escapes. But not before taunting Rhyme with a final call letting him know that their dance is not yet over.
Best part of story, including ending:
Until the white supremcist part of the story was introduced, I thought the murders were very distinctive and original. Unfortunately, it all seemed to fall apart a bit at the end, but it's still a very well-constructed mystery.
Best scene in story:
There is a scene in which Lincoln Rhyme is talking over the crimes with his investigator/girlfriend Amelia Sachs. They have a natural and beliveable chemistry and it was fun to see it play out.
Opinion about the main character:
I've always enjoyed the character of Lincoln Rhyme, a man who is severely handicapped. But he doesn't let that stop him professionally or personally. Although the book doesn't sugarcoat the problems he has with day-to-day things, which is another reason to love the character.