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I have more books written by Jeffrey Deaver than any other author, and that's because he is so consistent, he never seems to come up with a dud. The Empty Chair is one of his Rhyme/Sachs series, Rhyme being the C4 quadriplegic criminalist who pursues the baddies from the confines of his Storm Arrow powered wheelchair or his bed in his apartment off Central Park, and the only part of his body he can move (from the neck down) is his 'ring finger', and even then only very slightly. I saw the film The Bone Collector some years ago, and as a result I can't but imagine that Denzel Washington in the part of Lincoln Rhyme in any of these novels, even though I believe that Deaver's vision of the man is white caucasian. And somehow I believe Amelia Sachs is far more attractive than Angelina Jolie (who played the part in Bone Collector), but maybe I just love tall redheads who love fast driving....... Anyway The Empty Chair is another example of Deaver making a complicated story out of ostensibly a simple plot, a skill he is very adept at. While in North Carolina for experimental surgery that might improve (or worsen) his disability, Rhyme is drawn into a local police hunt for a 16-year-old known as The Insect Boy, and who is alleged to be responsible for murder, rape and abduction. One of his female victims is thought to be alive but she needs to be found quickly in the intense August heat of the humid Carolina swamplands. As usual, nothing is what it initially seems, and although I constantly tried to guess the next twist, more often than not I was wrong - and I'm becoming a seasoned Deaver reader. The Empty Chair is as much a puzzle as a piece of entertaining fiction, and I admit I wasn't always able to come up with the answers before they were revealed. Standard Deaver fare, then, but a high standard nevertheless and worth adding to your personal library.
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on 20 December 2010
I had never heard of Deaver; I was on holiday in Lanzarote this December and spotted the title in the supermarket across from the Hotel. At first I had to write a list of the characters out to refer to, as I was a bit muddled, but then I twigged, but only as far as I clicked who the people were - the pace and the twists and turns were spell-binding and brilliant. I was completely and utterly hooked; I wanted to go out and buy every single one of his books. It was so gripping I had it with me everywhere and could not put it down. Never before have I been so anxious and absorbed by a book that I have had to peek to the end, but I had to this time if I was to get any sleep. I was very near the end, but just had to look to see what was going to happen; I couldn't stand it any more. Once I knew, I read it at peace. It must be the sign of stunning writing, that even knowing the outcome, as I read it I thought, 'I must have made a mistake....'but wasn't going to cheat and look again, I kept reading. Maybe for people who have read more of his books in this group, it is easy to be blase about it 'not one of his best' etc etc, but for me it was a highlight of the holiday and that was in a superb 5* hotel on the beach. I had nipped across for some nibbles to eat in the room and picked this up by chance as the synopsis looked good and I wanted a holiday read. It was the best 5.98 Euros I spent.
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on 7 March 2003
I have to admit this is the first Deaver novel I have read and although I found it a little confusing in parts, I will be reading more.
A cleverly crafted novel with lots of twists and turns, I found the insight into Lincoln Rhymes and the frustration of being unable to move interesting and informative without being patronising. I hadn't a clue who'd done what, whether this was solely clever plotting or the fact that occasionally there were too many people involved and my poor brain couldn't handle it - I don't know.
The dynamics between Lincoln and Amelia are also well drawn and I am looking forward to reading later novels to see how this develops.
The insight into a criminalists work and mind set was interesting, however if you are not 'into' reading about the importance of very small pieces of information - then give this one a miss.
The major disappointment for me was the ending. It came wrapped up in a silk bow and was over so quickly after such a monumental build-up, I had to re-read it to see if I'd missed something - I hadn't.
If you havn't read this author before give it a try, it's very well written and generally flows well the characters are interesting and varied - but we are not given a great deal of insight into the majority of them.
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on 5 April 2001
Another in the Lincoln Rhyme series. Attending a hospital in North Carolina, hoping to alleviate slightly his quadriplegic condition, Rhyme is asked by the local police department to use his forensic skills solving a murder and kidnapping. This scenario and the resulting speed with which a forensic department is created from scratch does stretch credulity somewhat, but is worth setting aside. The alleged perpetrator of the crimes is a Garrett Hanlon, 16 year old boy with info-mania for insects. Assisting Rhyme in detecting the crime are his lover Amelia and caring for his bodily comforts, Thom.
Most of the action happens in the swamplands and Deaver's description of these together with the use of insect habits, explained through the mouth of the boy, has created an intriguing novel. Garrett's assimilation of how insects live and protect themselves form the basis for tactical chases in the swamp. A philosophy and lifestyle which initially appears skewed, viewed through the eyes of his contemporaries, skilfully affects the police officers involved, especially Amelia. Doubting the small town case against the boy for varying reasons she helps him to escape to enable the kidnap victim to be found and finds her perception of her relationship with Lincoln changing. Deaver does not clutter his text with endless descriptions of sexual couplings, sensuality is cerebral and briefly alluded to. It exists as an adjunct to the plot and provides a human interest in Lincoln and Amelia with intruding on the thriller style narrative.
The plot is complicated but plausible, set against environmental concerns about chemical products. It's logic falters occasionally such as paying off a coroner and funeral home to falsify records of a cremation when the same amount of cash could have probably secured the actual deed. Possibly the bones would then have been in an inappropriate place for the denouement. Despite this the book is an excellent depiction of corrupt small town America at it's worst and written with great subtlety and many layered meanings. It'll definitely stay on my bookshelf for future re-visits.
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on 17 February 2001
Lincoln Rhyme, a paraplegic forensic scientist, is a superbly written character who has appeared in previous Deaver novels (The Coffin Dancer and The Bone Collector).
The Empty Chair does not utilise Rhyme. He remains as almost a background character, the focus being on policewoman, Amelia. The character of Amelia acts out of character in this book, preventing the reader from sympathising with her.
Rhyme is out of his depth away from New York and this detracts from his brilliance, making him a spare part in the novel.
Deaver is able to draw the reader through the plot quickly, making it very difficult to put the book down. However, due to the lack of main character interaction in The Empty Chair, this does not occur as easily as in previous novels.
Deaver does produce realistic scenarios and uses plot twists to make you gasp and want to reread whole sections over. This does occur in this novel, although there are more cliches and stereotypes which to some degree take away from secondary character development.
The book starts promisingly and is an easy read. It's not up to the standard of the other Rhyme novels, but Rhyme fans will enjoy seeing him again, no matter what the circumstances.
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on 8 November 2000
Before I start I must warn you I'm a huge Deaver fan, I have read all, and enjoyed all of his books,but this is an excellent read, gripping,and the increasing closeness between Amelia and Rhyme is wonderful, I cant wait for the next one to see where Deaver takes it.I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good thriller.
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on 25 June 2011
The Empty Chair is the 3rd book in the Lincoln Rhyme series. (after The Bone Collector and The Coffin Dancer)

I really enjoyed the first two books and looked forward to reading this one. However I didn't really enjoy it at all. The setting is new, Rhyme and Sachs are in North Carolina for an operation on Rhymes spine. Almost as soon as they arrive, they are called upon to help the local police in trying to find a young man who has kidnapped 2 women.

Both Rhyme and Sachs are like the proverbial fishes out of water, which I guess is the point, but they both didn't seem to be much like the characters I have come to know. Sachs in particular acts in an unbelievably out of character way.

The story dragged quite a lot, the characters seem to spend most of the book trekking through the North Carolina terrain. There are one or two interesting characters, and the book has it's usual amount of twists and turns towards the end, but even those are starting to become predictable. I didn't spot the twists in his other 2 books, but I'm starting to get used to his style now and looking for clues along the way.

I'm glad I read it, if only to be able to progress onto his next book, The Stone Monkey, which I really hope is an improvement. All that said, it is a decent enough read, and maybe he set the standard so high with the first 2 books and in my view hasn't reached that standard again with this one.
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on 29 June 2006
I am a new fan to the Lincoln Rhyme series having read 'The Coffin Dancer' and 'The Stone Monkey'. 'The Empty Chair' was the next one on my list, and I enjoyed this one too, although it was not as good as the aforementioned novels.

In this story, we follow the criminalist duo of Rhyme and Amelia Sachs as they are called upon to use their skills in a small town in North Carolina. They are chasing a sole murderer who is a mere 16 year old kid. I found the rural setting of this small town definitely had some appeal and differed from being set in New York. And the case just gets bigger and crazier the more in-depth the investigation goes. The twists in the story are fairly obvious, yet they are relentless. All in all, the book certainly makes for good entertaining reading.
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on 31 July 2001
The plot, like the terrain, twists and turns. The renegade action of Amelia and the boy suspect leaves you asking has she really blown it this time? Rhyme's obvious anxiety for her and the possible outcomes of her actions speak volumes about his true feelings for her. She, in turn demonstrates her fears about the outcomes of his operation and how it could change their relationship and working partnership.She is fearful of there being an "empty chair" and one is left hoping that he will not go through with it! Typically however, Deaver takes us to the edge and almost tips us and Rhyme over the edge into oblivion! Overall the story is pacy and the reader can sense the arid heat of the area, its dangers and the twisted nature of humanity as the story unfolds. I am a commited reader of Deaver's novels and he rates along with Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs and Minette Walters on my best author lists.
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on 6 March 2002
This is another top-notch thriller from Deaver. After an intriguing beginning I found the book lost a little pace and direction but half-way through, the story picked up again and I couldn't stop reading until the end.
I love the shocks and surprises in Deaver's novels - having read a few of his books I should know to expect a series of mindblowing twists before the end, but this time I didn't see them coming. I disagree with reviewers who say there are too many - I liked that the story kept being turned on its head, over and over again - it made it gripping.
I had to suspend my disbelief a little in places over Rhyme's insight and abilities regarding clues and evidence - at times, I thought, "as if he'd figure that out from some little bit of soil or something", but as these parts were quickly dealt with to make way for more action, they didn't jar too much.
Deaver is an exceptionally good author who deserves to outsell the likes of Patricia Cornwell. He doesn't ever seem to resort to formulaic plodding novels, and makes the effort to challenge a reader's perceptions instead of spoon-feeding them a story along the lines of:
Bad Guy does Bad Thing
Bad Guy gets Away
Bad Guy goes After Hero / Heroine
Hero / Heroine dispatches Bad Guy, who was undoubtedly Very Bad
The Empty Chair does NOT do this, and is certainly worth looking at even if you haven't read the earlier Lincoln Rhyme novels.
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