The Steel Kiss: Jeffrey Deaver
Technology and its advances are at the root of this complex novel. Imagine coming out of work, going on an escalator and getting crushed to death trapped in the escalator’s shaft. Imagine having no way out even when help has arrived and a vicious killer uses this as a diversion to get away from the detective chasing him. Amelia Sachs is chasing this killer and comes across Greg Fromme caught in the shaft of this escalator with no way to turn it off or prevent what happens next. Imagine being able to create this man’s death using a remote control device not anywhere near the escalator. Imagine your microwave being operated remotely, or your toaster oven getting turned on when you are not home or even someone starting your car without any keys, just think of the possibilities and the end results if someone has the power to control everyday devices without your knowledge and can hack into your life with the stroke of a key. Enter Lincoln Rhyme a confined to a wheelchair but definitely sharp as a tack along with his new intern Jennifer Archer. What happens when the wife of the victim wants to sue the escalator company holding it responsible for her husband’s death? What happens when the evidence points elsewhere and the company that installed the escalator is filing for bankruptcy and there is nothing that the lawyer for the wife can do until the intern learns something interesting, a blogger’s column brings more technology to light and the result is not only another murder but a startling revelation into the insight behind the escalator accident, the technology involved and the information shared by the blogger that lets you know that the responsible party is not the company that installed the escalator but someone else. Can smart ware devices in your appliances cause death and destruction? What other devices will this killer use to teach the public a lesson about using these devices and not appreciating what they have? The People’s Guardian is what he calls himself and he’s just getting started as we learn about his Toy Room, the sick devices he’s created and the people who enter and never leave at least in one piece.
The next victim is a fifty-eight year old man whose wife is away and he falls prey to a gas explosion. A gas explosion of a huge magnitude because these opulent appliances and rich conveniences that make our lives not so much richer but easier the unsub feels just contribute to too much consumerism and people that buy them need to be destroyed.
The story centers around the team the Rhyme has put together to figure out what the next move of this insane person is, what he is targeting and how to try and top him as Nick Carelli tries to enlist the help of an old buddy to clear his name for the crime he took the fall for. His brother did the crime and the highjacking and he gave up Amelia and his life as a cop to protect him but at what cost and for how long. Then we have office Ron Pulaski who goes undercover on his own to investigate but can all three teams that are searching for the killer stop someone hiding in plain sight and daring them with his taunts, texts and emails?
With the public on alert and many not taking elevator and escalators is this man achieving his goal and what is next as he goes to a construction site and the explosion there is even more terrifying as he is also targeting Amelia. But, Amelia is distracted with her mother’s upcoming heart surgery and problems, annoyed at the fact that Juliette Archer seems to have Rhyme’s attention and the killer just wants to destroy commercialism and high end conveniences. People need to pay and he does not care how many or who as long as his point comes across. Someone else dies and he hacks his body into pieces using his special tools and then going off to dinner as if nothing happened.
The author allows readers to hear the innermost thoughts of the killer as he delivers a twist that will send you in a whole other direction. With all of their surveillance and police protection nothing could stop the person behind the killings from attaching Rhyme and Juliette as they confront the person with the real reason they started this chain of events. Leading back to an accident and the injuries incurred added by the fact that it stemmed to the people that were killed and their primary commonality, author Jeffrey Deaver’s ending will not only surprise readers but make you wonder just how dangerous it is to use appliances, is it really important to be able to use remote devices to open doors, start ovens, close windows, open car doors, set alarms and more or should be to back to the old way of just doing it by hand? What is the premise behind what happened to this person and how did their car malfunction? What about the way gas leak happened and the microwave explode and the escalator malfunctions? How did this person convince the killer to do his/her bidding? Why does someone fall prey to the desires and will of others? Just why did this person agree to the plan and how did it affect this person too? Revenge, power, greed, control, commercialism, consumerism which the killer is guilty of too since the killer needed to purchase some fancy tools to create the masterpieces he thought he created when killing his prey, or is it just plain murder? Added in we have the ultimate con and betrayal that Sachs uncovers when dealing with someone who was close to her at one time but was using her and her connections to get what he wanted now. Nick Carelli did he really want her forgiveness or did he have an ulterior motive for reconnecting with Amelia? Just what happens when Juliette and Lincoln come face to face with the killer?
Is the killer using the controlling things to target rich people who buy expensive items? The second is self-defense to protect him from getting caught. But, the Unsub is smart and thinks he has it all planned out until Rhyme faces the real killer and learns the motive behind the entire plot but not before the killer goes after Amelia’s mother and rigs the circuit breaker in her house to short circuit. Added in we hear the voice of the killer and the connection to a company called U.S. Auto the fuel injector company that caused this person to be permanently injured and her husband to lose his life. So, this person decided to go after anyone connected to this company like Greg Frommer, Benkoff, Joe Heady and the woman attorney for the insurance company. Just how the author ties this together is the work of a brilliant craftsman because you won’t see it coming and the ending has more twists and surprises for Amelia, Lincoln and Pulaski.
Shoppers just what does this term really refer to and what does it mean. Hear the voice of the killer who explains why he refers to these people as Shoppers and the next time you buy a product make sure you have a real warranty, test it out and protect yourself from injury and do a search on the company that created the product, installed the product and even does the upgrades and updates or else you might be the unfortunate recipient of the next Steel Kiss!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine