Book info

The Empty Chair (2000)

The Empty Chair (2000)
Rating
4.04 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
0684855631 (ISBN13: 9780684855639)
languge
English
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publisher
simon & schuster
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The Empty Chair (2000)
The Empty Chair (2000)

About book: In Tanner’s Corner, NC, Garrett Hanlon, 16 years old, orphaned and essentially feral, has allegedly killed Billy Stail with a shovel and has allegedly kidnapped Mary Beth McConnell. He has allegedly put a county deputy into a life-threatening coma using the stings of hundreds of yellow jackets. And we know for a fact, no “allegedly” about it, that he has kidnapped Lydia Johansson. Coincidental to the entire series of crimes, Lincoln Rhyme, Amelia Sachs and Thom arrive at UNC’s medical center, located only a few miles from Tanner’s Corner. Lincoln is scheduled for major spinal surgery, a procedure that Amelia has serious doubts about. Angry with Amelia for questioning his decision, Lincoln is even angrier when she walks into the doctor’s office with a local law enforcement officer.Jim Bell is the sheriff of Paquenoke County, where the murder, kidnappings and assault have just taken place. He is also the cousin of Roland Bell, one of the two NYPD detectives that Rhyme works with on a regular basis as an expert forensics consultant. Bell has come, hat in hand, to beg Rhyme for help. His county is poor, with no crime lab of its own, and his police force is now understaffed and over-tasked.Amelia is all for it, presumably to get Rhyme away from the hospital. Thom is completely against it, as he has limited medical equipment with him to help Rhyme with the physical rigors of an investigation. But Rhyme, after his initial snit over the disruption subsides, sees the threads of a puzzle that needs solving. So Rhyme agrees to help Sheriff Bell for two days, the time he has until his surgery is to take place.As the flush of joy over having a new puzzle to solve fades, Rhyme realizes that he is at a considerable disadvantage here, and not because he’s a quadriplegic. He is totally ignorant of his surroundings, knowing nothing about the soil, the water, the air or the people here. He is out of his natural element and Garrett Hanlon is not. For Garrett has taken his captives into his own territory, the sweaty, nasty bogs on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp.Scant evidence exists to aide Rhyme and Sachs in their search. The primary and secondary scenes have been trampled and mangled by a police force inadequately trained in CSI. Private citizens have made things both worse and dangerous as they hunt the boy, not just to find the kidnapped women but for the reward. And one of the deputies has gone rogue, defying orders from the sheriff, intent on killing the boy for the present wrongs and for acts he legally skated on several years earlier.But Rhyme and Sachs prevail, Garrett Hanlon is caught, the second woman kidnapped is rescued, the deputy’s killing spree is thwarted. The only thing that remains is to find the first girl kidnapped. Then you realize that you are barely one-third of the way into the book, and that is far too soon for the plot to be at this point of completion. Perhaps “alleged,” that word those criminal defense attorneys so irritatingly insist upon, really means something here.Sure enough, as the old saying goes, the plot thickens. And by the halfway mark, Deaver will metaphorically shove the knife through both Rhyme’s and the reader’s shoulder blades. He will viciously twist that knife and leave you to wonder just how Rhyme and Sachs can possibly survive physically, emotionally and legally.However, Deaver is not through here. He is not going to let this twist play out logically to its conclusion. He is going to twist and twist and twist yet again. By the time you are two chapters from the end of the book – and it’s a long book – you will just know that if Deaver twists that story arc one more time, even one more degree, you will most certainly have either a coronary or a stroke. The suspense is that intense.In building that suspense, be aware that Deaver makes use of a great many stereotypes as he plays out the investigation. The story takes place in rural North Carolina so Deaver utilizes stereotypes about Southerners and Northerners, about city cops and rural cops, about women and blacks and crips. And just as he paints some characters with the black brushes of these stereotypes, he uses events and other characters to lay some of those images low and to intimate why stereotypes exist in the first place. But what Deaver doesn’t do is make it easy to figure out how it’s all going to play out. Just when you think you know who the bad guys are, you find out that you don’t know squat or you find out you don’t know the half of how bad they really are. The only characters whose moral compass you can count on are those of Rhyme, Sachs and Thom. And with trust being in such short supply, the lives of each of them, even Thom, is not guaranteed as long as anyone in their vicinity carries either a gun, a knife, a syringe or a quick fist. Quite frankly, this is an intense page-turner and a psychological stressor right to the very last page.

The Empty Chair is definitely one of Deaver's better novels, and had it not suffered from an extremely drawn-out ending during which two loose ends were tied up unsatisfactorily, I would've given this one five stars.Taking Rhyme and Sachs out of their element was a great choice, and dividing the two was an even better one. Setting Sachs and Rhyme at odds opened up so many intriguing avenues for the story, and I found myself quickly turning pages to find out what was going to happen next with the Insect Boy.Rhyme and Sachs' relationship gets a stellar focus here. I was so happy to finally feel like there was a strong romantic connection between the two. Sachs' selfish opinion on Rhyme's surgery was a little disconcerting, but understandable, and Rhyme's admission that she was as good a criminalist as he was—perhaps even better—was a very important insight into their relationship.Now, onto what I didn't like.WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!.........Sachs got a great opportunity for character development when she accidentally shot Deputy Corn. It was a horrifying moment that left her a shell of her former self, and one which showed us the depths of her character instead of the two-dimensional "cop who likes to drive fast" that she's reduced to in some of the later novels. Hearing she'd have to spend five years in solitary was gutwrenching, and obviously I knew they'd find a way out of it, but I didn't expect it to be so... unsatisfying. Turns out Deputy Corn did a bad thing once so all the charges were dropped and Amelia was free to go right there in the court room with an audience looking on, including the deputy's parents. After that moment, she also fails to show any remorse for the accident, which I guess means that if you do a bad thing, Sachs has no problems shooting you in the head. Additionally, it makes the state drop the case against you.The inclusion of Lydia at the end was totally unnecessary. Although I did wonder why Lydia was kidnapped at the beginning, it was never interesting enough for me to want to see her again. Then it turns out that she was also in on the conspiracy and is now trying to kill Lincoln by... walking into his surgery and telling him so as he's going under. Except she's part of the oncology staff, has zero reason to be there, there are doctors and staff standing all around her, and ORs are fairly secure. How the hell did she get in? Why didn't any of the other doctors/nurses/techs hear her? Why didn't they hear Lincoln literally screaming, "No! Please no! She's going to kill me! Stop her!" I suppose it was a way to get Lincoln out of the surgery and save it for another time, but it felt very cheap to me..........I knocked off a whole star for those two points, which really put a dent in how much I enjoyed the book. Beyond that, though, there's very little I can find fault with. It was a great read and I'm going to make my way through some of the rest of his older novels soon!
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Reviews
Kathryn
Another great installment in the Lincoln Rhyme series! I have to admit, I was quite skeptical of The Empty Chair because the previous installment, The Coffin Dancer wasn't my favorite Deaver book. One thing I really enjoyed about the case in this novel was, Deaver brought back the forensics, Lincoln Rhyme's specialty. In the second installment,I felt like the forensics was missing, or at least not to the extent of the usual Lincoln Rhyme. Something else I enjoyed about The Empty Chair was the corrupt town feeling on the story. It didn't feel as though Deaver was making fun of small, back-woods towns, but rather painted a realistic picture of some of the small town, moonshine communities we see in real life. The idea of "The Insect Boy", I thought, was really well done, and an interesting suspect. Here, once again, Deaver threw me for a loop and made me question everything I had read. What I mean is, Deaver has a great way of manipulating your mind and thoughts about characters, whether they are good or bad thoughts. He was such a creepy kid, and I felt as if he could have been a real person. Again, Deaver threw in so many plot twists, and I enjoyed how deep this story became than just the surface case. I felt the cases were well done, methodically genius, but also realistic. The corruption, death, lies, and deep-seeded hatred really added something deeper to the original case. I also enjoyed how Lincoln Rhyme has a personal conflict within this installment. I feel like these touches Deaver adds not only make the stories more believable, but it also makes Rhyme more conceivable. I love how Rhyme is the smartest man in the room, but yet people only treat him as the smartest person once he opens his mouth and they get past their prejudices. I feel as though its how people are in real life. You judge when you don't know or you don't understand, whether you refuse to or you are just ignorant. Amelia did some things in this installment I felt were kind of shocking. I don't think they were out of her character, per se, but I've always felt, as Rhyme even says in this book, "she lives on the edge." I kind of like her "living on the edge" personality because I feel like it makes her more than just your regular old cop. What keeps me from giving this installment five stars is, some parts fell a little flat or boring to me. It's kind of hard to explain. It's not that the parts were so boring I couldn't read it, and I understand a storyline or case in this matter, need some down time. I guess for me, I enjoy the adrenaline rush when I read. However, yet again, Deaver weaves a complicated, well-thought out plot. He is methodical and meticulous, and I feel as if his cases are believable and conceivable. He makes sure loose ends become no end at all, but yet come full circle to complete the complicated storyline.
Scilla
Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs have gone to North Carolina for surgery which might improve Lincoln's condition. The Sheriff of nearby Paquenoke County, Jim Bell, cousin of Rhyme's colleague Rolland Bell, arrives to ask for help. Two girls have been kidnapped (student researcher Mary Beth and then nurse Lydia), and the kidnapper, sixteen year old orphan Garrett, called Insect Boy, killed the man trying to rescue Mary Beth and probably several other several people. Lincoln and Amelia set up a crime lab in Tanners Corner, and Amelia starts analyzing the crime scene. Most of the evidence has been compromised, but Lincoln begins to get an idea where Garrett may be taking Lydia. Amelia and three local police begin trying to track them. There are some wild cards in the town along with a policeman who just want to kill Garrett. However, they need Garrett alive to find where he has hidden Mary Beth. As usual with Rhyme books, about half way through you think things are about solved, and then things go wrong. You are in suspense right to the end of the book.
Janie Johnson
This installment of the Lincoln Rhyme series was a little better than The Coffin dancer, although I still had some issues with the story. For the most part it was enjoyable and easy to get through. I feel as though I may be getting a little burned out on Lincoln Rhyme though.In this book a teenager, Garrett, is accused of murdering one male and kidnapping 2 females. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are called in to help solve the crime and find the missing girls, before time runs out. And of course other things begin to get in the way and the search becomes more difficult for one of the girls.The story was engaging and somewhat exciting but I found it to be a bit more predictable than the past 2 books I read so far. I also did not like where the author took Amelia Sach's role in this installment because it made the story a bit unrealistic for me since it was pretty much out of character for Amelia. There was a decent twist in the end of the story that I had not expected so that was good. Overall it was ok. I just thought it could have been a little less predictable in parts and more believable in others. I will not continue with this series, mainly because of the way Deaver is writing Sach's character.
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