Police routinely apprehend felons wielding guns, knives, and even bombs, but what about a criminal whose weapon is electricity? It’s everywhere, it’s invisible, and it takes only a tenth of an amp to stop a heart. When a spectacular arc flash destroys a Manhattan electrical substation, fries a bystander, and plunges a section of the city into darkness, finding just such a criminal is the challenge faced by quadriplegic forensic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme. Heading a task force of personnel from the NYPD, FBI, and Homeland Security, Rhyme sends his top investigators to search the still-smoking crime scene for evidence.
In his townhouse lab, each fiber and element is dissected and examined by the methodical investigator. How was it done? Who is responsible? When and where will he strike next? Tried and true methods of investigation run by veteran cops and agents are pitted against the changing world of modern technology and communications used by Homeland Security and FBI hotshots. Can the “tortoise” and “hare” work together? When a message from the killer arrives, demanding an immediate power outage or more people will die, the deadly countdown begins.
On the other side of the country the California Bureau of Investigation and Mexican Police are pursuing “The Watchmaker,” Rhymes’s old nemesis. As the criminalist tries to monitor both operations, the strain takes its toll on his fragile health. Meanwhile setbacks stall the New York investigation and more lives are lost.
As fans of the previous eight Rhyme thrillers know, this series takes suspense to the highest level, setting desperate situations and ticking clocks against micro-detailed studies of evidence. As soon as the solution is in sight, Deaver twists the story in a new direction and the race is on again. The author’s knowledge of electricity and forensics is fascinating, but his extensive use of initials and acronyms slows down the action.