Skip to main content

The Steel Kiss: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel


The Steel Kiss: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel

THE STEEL KISS takes place over the course of a very long six days. It begins with Amelia Sachs in hot pursuit of a character known as “Unsub 40” (for great reason) who is seemingly trapped in a shopping mall coffee shop but escapes capture thanks to a horrific accident that diverts Sachs at the last moment. The accident? It involves an escalator. You are not going to like escalators after reading this book, but you are going to learn a few things about them. You will also learn about chess, forensics and…

I’m digressing. THE STEEL KISS is a terrific novel, maybe the best of the lot in Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series. Rhyme is a forensic criminologist (or at least he was) who, as the result of a crime scene accident, is a quadriplegic. His mind is terrific, though, and he has solved --- with Sachs on a consultative basis --- any number of bizarre and seemingly unsolvable crimes. Now he has decided to change jobs, and when we first encounter him here, he is a professor at the John Marshall School for Criminal Justice. This is much to the chagrin of Sachs, for obvious reasons. Still, Rhyme feels the siren call of a challenge, particularly one connected to a puzzle, and thus is brought into the escalator incident as an expert witness for the family of the victim. His research uncovers a very strange element, which leads to the possibility that this “accident” may have occurred purposely. But why?

"If THE STEEL KISS isn’t shortlisted for a bunch of awards and a whole lot of 'Best Of' recognitions, it will only be because enough people failed to read it. Don’t be that person."

Another incident occurs, and it seems that the police have a brilliant killer on their hands, one who takes otherwise harmless objects and turns them into dual-purpose instruments of death. We’re not talking about a pen or a skillet as an improvised weapon; there is someone much more clever and diabolical at work here. Meanwhile, Sachs is still after the mysterious 40, who seems to be murdering people at random in the city while hiding in plain view, his unique physical characteristics notwithstanding.

And there are additional distractions for both Sachs and Rhyme, whose relationship will be tested beyond those elements that they face on a day-to-day basis. An ex-boyfriend of Sachs turns up like a bad penny. He may or may not be reformed, but he is coming back into her life at the wrong time (not that there ever would have been a right time). As for Rhyme, he has made a new friend in Juliette Archer, a former modern dancer and present student in one of his classes at Marshall. There is some question as to whether or not Archer’s interest in forensic science extends to Rhyme personally.

Meanwhile, a killer who is seemingly unstoppable and uncatchable remains on the streets of New York. Every tick of the clock brings him closer to striking again, and you will hear that “tick” in every sentence of the book, which is loaded from first page to (almost) last with suspense of one sort of another.

The mysteries that propel THE STEEL KISS would be enough to bring anyone, whether a casual reader or a mystery aficionado, to the proceedings. But Deaver, as always, offers so much more. In the first paragraph of this review, I mentioned chess, forensics and escalators. Deaver gives his readers a solid 101-level course in each of these, making them interesting as well. You WILL care about escalators after reading this book and may even be tempted to haul down that chess set that’s been sitting on your shelf, just to try out some of the moves that are reproduced in a virtual game that takes place about two-thirds of the way through the novel. Then there is a nice bit of symmetry connecting the (near) beginning with the (very) end and also tugs the reader ever-so-gently into the next installment of the series, whenever that may be.

If THE STEEL KISS isn’t shortlisted for a bunch of awards and a whole lot of “Best Of” recognitions, it will only be because enough people failed to read it. Don’t be that person.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 11, 2016

The Steel Kiss: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel
by Jeffery Deaver

  • Publication Date: November 29, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Vision
  • ISBN-10: 1455536350
  • ISBN-13: 9781455536351