The Burial Hour: Jeffrey Deaver
Listen to the sound of the Stradivarius Violin as the composer and musician creates the music as the bow touches the strings every so lightly and the vibrato used to emit the special effects that the composer wants comes through. What would happen if someone creates his own musical compositions listens to the sounds of many orchestras, symphonies and sits back and becomes one and the same with the sounds and the music. What would happen if this person decides to use the violin strings from the best and most amazing violin played by the best musicians in the world, decides to take this priceless instrument, use it strings that create the sounds and place them around the neck of an innocent victim as a noose? A traveling businessman walking down the street in the Upper East Side is snatched in broad daylight. When a young child of nine sees the crime, sees that he is taken and where the perp places this man, why doesn’t her mother listen to what she has to say? On the phone and annoyed that she is disturbing her call, it takes everything out of this child to finally get her mother’s attention and call the authorities to hopefully save the innocent man. This kidnapper who would come to be known as The Composer left a small miniature noose at the scene as a going away present for the police.
Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are the prime investigators in this novel as their expertise and experience are needed to solve the case. He being a forensic expert and Amelia sharp and careful in her assessment of crime scenes they make a great pair. While he is in a wheelchair and she is mobile his intelligence, observation and cognitive skills make up for any handicap he might have. But, something happens after this first kidnapping but first they manage to find the whereabouts of the first victim, the perp or composer gets away but not before setting off some type of fire in order to divert them to the wrong place. Robert Ellis is so thankful that he was saved but he only has a small amount of information to tell, as he never saw the man’s face. The next kidnapping is of a man in Naples, Italy also with one witness causing the Italian Police, Forestry Police and the Prosecutor and other Inspectors and Officers to be placed on the case trying to solve what is going to be the most unusual and bizarre case they might ever encounter. When you meet the Officer from the Forestry Unit you will wonder why he is so much more informed then those higher up.
Ercole Benelli is the officer from the Forestry Branch and Rossi is the head investigator along with his assistant one hot guy named Di Carlo. But, when Benelli offers important facts about the case and he emails the police in America that he would like to information about the case and the crime scene photos, what he gets will irritate his superiors and bring down the wrath of Prosecutor Spiro. Rhyme and Sachs take a private jet and when Rossi tells Bellini that his information and documents have arrived little does he expect Rhyme and Sachs at their front door. Courtesies aside, curt remarks and what appears as a swift and terse dismissal they thank them for coming, thank them for the documents and state that they will handle it from this point since they have the same resources available to them as they do in America. But, before he leaves Rhyme leaves Benelli with some food for thought and how to proceed.
Before the first victim is found the composer who is totally immersed and obsessed with music, tapes and records the final breaths of his victims creating his own composition on a keyboard sampler to play and post online for the world to hear. Hearing his thoughts and trying to rationalize why he is doing this is bone chilling and frightening as he talks about being closer to Harmony and alludes to Harmonia the goddess of harmony and a daughter of Zeus and Pleiad Elektra. His goal is to create as many sounds, compositions and finally find Harmony and be closer to it. Euterpe was one if the nine Mousal/Muses, the goddess of music, song and dance. In the Classical Era the Mousal was assigned a specific literary and artistic spheres, Euterpe was named the muse of lyric poetry. Her name was derived according to history as giver of much delight.
Using a video feed he delivers the horrific sight of the first victim with the strings around his neck, standing on a box with a pail with water coming down. As in the second victim a Muslim he took has his mouth taped, hands bound and hears the water that’s filling a pail as the noose gets tighter around his neck as the pail fills with water. But, Rhyme, Thom and Amelia might have been abruptly dismissed but they are going nowhere. Akil the second victim is in protective custody but something about the liquids found at the scene of the crime alerted the investigators and Rhyme that the composer might be on some serious antipsychotic drugs and anti-depressants and using some to drug his victims too.
The Composer uses classical music to set the tone and the scenes in order to create Harmony with his muse and be able to feel one and the same with the music. The Waltz from the Nutcracker Suite and The Blue Danube Waltz were just two selections he played hoping to ease his tension, create the music in his own mind and a score that would end in the death of someone that he kidnapped. The police in the mean time are floundering around hoping to solve the case but each time Ercole suggests something the Prosecutor shoots him down because the idea was not his. Even who is an outstanding investigator can’t help but feeling frustrated at times. Things take on several different turns as the case of the Composer brings to light the different types of investigative procedures of the Police Of State in Italy and the many other branches. The Prosecutor takes no suggestions and even when Ercole comes up with reasonable clues and uses research and the internet to search for places, finds clues in phone records and even a pattern used by the serial killer or composer, he refutes everything he suggests. The man has an ego bigger than most. The arrogance of the prosecutor is so vividly depicted and comes through as the author creates the friction between the Americans and the Italians.
Added in Rhyme and Sachs have been called to investigate the rape of a young girl by a young man named Garry. With their help the defending lawyer and PR person hope they can find clues to who put the date rape in the girl’s drink and who might have committed this crime other than Garry. However, their investigation is a secret and when and if the Prosecutor learns about this the tables will be turned in a very different manner and direction. Egos play a big part among the characters.
The forensic expert is right on target yet she cannot make out the fingerprint of the composer but the location where the kidnapping took place and then realized that the last victim was a refugee and this might be the pattern the composer has created. The next victim is killed, his throat slashed as you hear the voice of the Composer explaining his choice of Greensleeves, another piece of music that I studied and played, plus the use of the cello string as the hangman’s noose. Hear the voice of the Composer as the Black Screams overtake him and he becomes agitated until the music that is played will calm him down and bring him closer to harmony.
When Sachs and Ercole learn more about the rape case and the forensic expert analyzes the findings, what does the soil in a flowerpot have to do with the rape and just who broke into Garry’s apartment and planted evidence. Why does Spiro criticize Rhyme and threaten him every step of the way? When Rhyme responds that he will stop at nothing until the truth is told even breaking the law you want to stand up and applaud because he won’t back down. Using his skills of persuasion and his investigative mastery he considers the opposition as Spiro once again backs down. Ercole is smart yet constantly put down by this man will he remain with the Police of State as an investigator or be sent back to the Forestry Corps. Even more revealing and interesting is that author Jeffrey Deaver allows readers to read the police report, the evidence reports and become part of the investigation hoping to along with the police in both countries figure out who is behind the kidnappings and the rape.
Ripped out of the headlines as you read the news alerts as we speak the main issues deal with refugees coming into our country seeking sanctuary. What role does the refugee camp have in this and just who is there that is part of this cover up? What role did the victims really play? Who is the accomplice that is working with the Composer? Each victim a pawn in a larger plot along with the Composer who appears to be creating his own music to each kidnapped victim’s plight as he hears the sounds, feels the beat and lifts up his arm and writes the notes creating the special piece on a staff paper with lines. Who is Euterpe his muse? Why was the Composer on antipsychotic drugs? Why waltzes what significance do they play?
As the final stanzas are played and the curtain is about to go down just who is the real composer or orchestra leader that created a deception so devious, so cunning and so well crafted that as only author Jeffrey Deaver can? Crimes committed in plain sight. Spiro relenting and accepting help and one man who will be the scapegoat for it all when the evidence collected is missing. A link is found between the rape case and the kidnappings.
The refugee problem is at the core of the novel and someone hired refugee seekers who sought asylum for a reason to carry out their plot called the Burial Hour referred to as a phrase to “ the belief that citizens were being suffocated by waves of immigrants.” Who is the mastermind hiding in plain sight? Let the Composer’s baton be lowered and the final stanza played as the author takes us into the minds of a serial killer, cult leader, master money launderer and more. CAN YOU HEAR THE BLACK SCREAMS? Close you eyes and hear the waltzes play as you calm down.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine