Foto des BuchesBeing a regular reader of Deavers physically challenged crime novels around the cripple Lincoln Rhyme I have to warn you. “The Burning Wire” is not one of his masterpieces.

Deaver is usually a master of suspense and not shy of describing pain, brutality and extreme suffering. But it seems that in this book he got overwhelmed by the theme he choose for the story: Murder with Electricity.

It is a very interesting and quite original idea that someone might start terrifying New Yorks inhabitants with introducing some of them to several thousand volts. Also using the issue of our dependency on (or maybe: addiction to) electric power and the discussion about renewable energy as a background theme holds quite some promise.

And you know that Deaver studied the matter  intensely – her shares many of his insights into physics and explains them better than most physics teachers. But somehow he just got stuck with the technology and fails to extend the fascination into his subjects, his story, or society in general. How our own body works with electricity, how it interacts with us, how it kills… and many more interesting roads remain uncovered. In older books never short of the cruelest details of torture, murder and dying, here Deaver restrains himself and leaves it at: It strikes you and you are dead. Well, he describes some suffering, but it remains distant, somehow theoretical. There is more to it as everyone who ever made intimate contact with 220 volt wire can tell (happend to me twice).

You may ask: What for would I want to know this? The answer: You might not. But reading Deaver used to mean exploring the pure essence of those things, to get to its center in very much a metaphysical sense – even Buddhist in some way. But here electricity remains – despite the burning title – a cold thing. I expected much more depth here.

So the story unravels unusually moderate (for a Deaver)  and with much details of physics and the history of electricity. But without the very strong tension that usually holds it together in other books by Deaver. Dont get me wrong: Its not a bad or boring book – its pretty good indeed. I still had to finish it quick. But its just not up to the standard that Deaver himself created.

One big emotion is very present in the book. It is fear. Fear of electricity. Which leads to another weakness not only of this book, but of the whole series.  Some of the main protagonists are extremely afraid of dying. Which is a contradiction to the fact, that the same – especially the main character Amelia Sachs – constantly flirt with death and risks life for the job. And not only the job:  Sachs permanently entertain either self-destructive thoughts or indulges in self-destructive life threatening private activities. Now why is she always so very afraid of the one particular way of dying discussed in the current book? This has always bothered me, but becomes very clear in this volume.

Inevitably Deaver also touches upon the issue of the electric chair. But he refrains from being anything close to explain: If killing by electricity  is so easy – why is it so difficult to do on the chair? Now this – and the whole issue of death penalty – would have spiced up the whole story a bit.  But it seemed, that he feared steering the emotions of his US readership.

But despite much criticism I still come to the conclusion: The burning wire is still a very interesting, well written and unusual crime story. Worth a read.

Oh, and he mentions Twitter once. 😉


Author: Jeffery Deaver

Title: The Burning Wire

Source: Darmstadt Public Library (Stadtbibliothek Darmstadt)

Pages: 462 (paperback)

My Reading Time: 3 days

Language: Slightly advanced American English, salted a few with technical terms from physics.

Rating: *** ( out of 5)


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Patrick Cave: Das Saint Netzwerk

Sibylle Berg: Sex II


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