The weapon is invisible and omnipresent. Without it, modern society grinds to a halt. It is electricity. The killer harnesses and steers huge arc flashes with voltage so high and heat so searing that steel melts and his victims are set afire.
When the first explosion occurs in broad daylight, reducing a city bus to a pile of molten, shrapnel-riddled metal, officials fear terrorism. Rhyme, a world-class forensic criminologist known for his successful apprehension of the most devious criminals, is immediately tapped for the investigation. Long a quadriplegic, he assembles NYPD detective Amelia Sachs and officer Ron Pulaski as his eyes, ears and legs on crime sites, and FBI agent Fred Dellray as his undercover man on the street. As the attacks continue across the city at a sickening pace, and terrifying demand letters begin appearing, the team works desperately against time and with maddeningly little forensic evidence to try to find the killer. Or is it killers . . . ?
Meanwhile, Rhyme is consulting on another high-profile investigation in Mexico with a most coveted quarry in his crosshairs: the hired killer known as the Watchmaker, one of the few criminals to have eluded Rhyme’s net.
Juggling two massive investigations against a cruel ticking clock takes a toll on Rhyme’s health. Soon Rhyme is fighting on yet another front—and his determination to work despite his physical limitations threatens to drive away his closest allies when he needs them most . . .
About the Author
He's received or been shortlisted for a number of awards around the world, including Novel of the Year by the International Thriller Writers and the Steel Dagger from the Crime Writers' Association in the United Kingdom. In 2014, he was the recipient of three lifetime achievement awards. A former journalist, folksinger, and attorney, he was born outside of Chicago and has a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from Fordham University.
Date of Birth:May 6, 1950
Place of Birth:Chicago, Illinois
Education:B.A., University of Missouri; Juris Doctor, cum laude, Fordham University School of Law
Read an Excerpt
The Burning WireA Lincoln Rhyme Novel
By Jeffery Deaver
Simon & SchusterCopyright © 2010 Jeffery Deaver
All right reserved.
SITTING IN THE control center of Algonquin Consolidated Power and Light's sprawling complex on the East River in Queens, New York, the morning supervisor frowned at the pulsing red words on his computer screen.
Below them was frozen the exact time: 11:20:20:003 a.m.
He lowered his cardboard coffee cup, blue and white with stiff depictions of Greek athletes on it, and sat up in his creaky swivel chair.
The power company control center employees sat in front of individual workstations, like air traffic controllers. The large room was brightly lit and dominated by a massive flat-screen monitor, reporting on the flow of electricity throughout the power grid known as the Northeastern Interconnection, which provided electrical service in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut. The architecture and decor of the control center were quite modern—if the year were 1960.
The supervisor squinted up at the board, which showed the juice arriving from generating plants around the country: steam turbines, reactors and the hydroelectric dam at Niagara Falls. In one tiny portion of the spaghetti depicting these electrical lines, something was wrong. A red circle was flashing.
“What's up?” the supervisor asked. A gray-haired man with a taut belly under his short-sleeved white shirt and thirty years' experience in the electricity business, he was mostly curious. While critical-incident indicator lights came on from time to time, actual critical incidents were very rare.
A young technician replied, “Says we have total breaker separation. MH-Twelve.”
Dark, unmanned and grimy, Algonquin Consolidated Substation 12, located in Harlem—the “MH” for Manhattan—was a major area substation. It received 138,000 volts and fed the juice through transformers, which stepped it down to 10 percent of that level, divided it up and sent it on its way.
Additional words now popped onto the big screen, glowing red beneath the time and the stark report of the critical failure.
The supervisor typed on his computer, recalling the days when this work was done with radio and telephone and insulated switches, amid a smell of oil and brass and hot Bakelite. He read the dense, complicated scroll of text. He spoke softly, as if to himself, “The breakers opened? Why? The load's normal.”
Another message appeared.
“We've got load rerouting,” somebody called unnecessarily.
In the suburbs and countryside the grid is clearly visible—those bare overhead high-tension wires and power poles and service lines running into your house. When a line goes down, there's little difficulty finding and fixing the problem. In many cities, though, like New York, the electricity flows underground, in insulated cables. Because the insulation degrades after time and suffers groundwater damage, resulting in shorts and loss of service, power companies rely on double or even triple redundancy in the grid. When substation MH-12 went down, the computer automatically began filling customer demand by rerouting the juice from other locations.
“No dropouts, no brownouts,” another tech called.
Electricity in the grid is like water coming into a house from a single main pipe and flowing out through many open faucets. When one is closed, the pressure in the others increases. Electricity's the same, though it moves a lot more quickly than water—nearly 700 million miles an hour. And because New York City demanded a lot of power, the voltages—the electrical equivalent of water pressure—in the substations doing the extra work were running high.
But the system was built to handle this and the voltage indicators were still in the green.
What was troubling the supervisor, though, was why the circuit breakers in MH-12 had separated in the first place. The most common reason for a substation's breakers to pop is either a short circuit or unusually high demand at peak times—early morning, both rush hours and early evening, or when the temperature soars and greedy air conditioners demand their juice.
None of those was the case at 11:20:20:003 a.m. on this comfortable April day.
“Get a troubleman over to MH-Twelve. Could be a bum cable. Or a short in the—”
Just then a second red light began to flash.
Another area substation, located near Paramus, New Jersey, had gone down. It was one of those taking up the slack in Manhattan-12's absence.
The supervisor made a sound, half laugh, half cough. A perplexed frown screwed into his face. “What the hell's going on? The load's within tolerances.”
“Sensors and indicators all functioning,” one technician called.
“SCADA problem?” the supervisor called. Algonquin's power empire was overseen by a sophisticated Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition program, running on huge Unix computers. The legendary 2003 Northeast Blackout, the largest ever in North America, was caused in part by a series of computer software errors. Today's systems wouldn't let that disaster happen again but that wasn't to say a different computer screwup couldn't occur.
“I don't know,” one of his assistants said slowly. “But I'd think it'd have to be. Diagnostics say there's no physical problem with the lines or switchgear.”
The supervisor stared at the screen, waited for the next logical step: letting them know which new substation—or stations—would kick in to fill the gap created by the loss of NJ-18.
But no such message appeared.
The three Manhattan substations, 17, 10 and 13, continued alone in providing juice to two service areas of the city that would otherwise be dark. The SCADA program wasn't doing what it should have: bringing in power from other stations to help. Now the amount of electricity flowing into and out of each of those three stations was growing dramatically.
The supervisor rubbed his beard and, after waiting, futilely, for another substation to come online, ordered his senior assistant, “Manually move supply from Q-Fourteen into the eastern service area of MH-Twelve.”
After a moment the supervisor snapped, “No, now.”
“Hm. I'm trying.”
“Trying. What do you mean, trying?” The task involved simple keyboard strokes.
“The switchgear's not responding.”
“Impossible!” The supervisor walked down several short steps to the technician's computer. He typed commands he knew in his sleep.
The voltage indicators were at the end of the green. Yellow loomed.
“This isn't good,” somebody muttered. “This's a problem.”
The supervisor ran back to his desk and dropped into his chair. His granola bar and Greek athlete cup fell to the floor.
And then another domino fell. A third red dot, like a bull's-eye on a target, began to throb, and in its aloof manner the SCADA computer reported:
“No, not another one!” somebody whispered.
And, as before, no other substation stepped up to help satisfy the voracious demands of New Yorkers for energy. Two substations were doing the work of five. The temperature of the electric wires into and out of those stations was growing, and the voltage level bars on the big screen were well into the yellow.
The supervisor snapped, “Get more supply into those areas. I don't care how you do it. Anywhere.”
A woman at a nearby control booth sat up fast. “I've got forty K I'm running through feeder lines down from the Bronx.”
Forty thousand volts wasn't much and it would be tricky to move it through feeder lines, which were meant for about a third that much voltage.
Somebody else was able to bring some juice down from Connecticut.
The voltage indicator bars continued to rise but more slowly now.
Maybe they had this under control. “More!”
But then the woman stealing power from the Bronx said in a choking voice, “Wait, the transmission's reduced itself to twenty thousand. I don't know why.”
This was happening throughout the region. As soon as a tech was able to bring in a bit more current to relieve the pressure, the supply from another location dried up.
And all of this drama was unfolding at breathtaking speeds.
700 million miles an hour . . .
And then yet another red circle, another bullet wound.
A whisper: “This can't be happening.”
This was the equivalent of a huge reservoir of water trying to shoot through a single tiny spigot, like the kind that squirts cold water out of a refrigerator door. The voltage surging into MH-10, located in an old building on West Fifty-seventh Street in the Clinton neighborhood of Manhattan, was four or five times normal load and growing. The circuit breakers would pop at any moment, averting an explosion and a fire, but returning a good portion of Midtown to colonial times.
“North seems to be working better. Try the north, get some juice from the north. Try Massachusetts.”
“I've got some: fifty, sixty K. From Putnam.”
And then: “Oh, Jesus, Lord!” somebody cried.
The supervisor didn't know who it was; everybody was staring at their screens, heads down, transfixed. “What?” he raged. “I don't want to keep hearing that kind of thing. Tell me!”
“The breaker settings in Manhattan-Ten! Look! The breakers!”
Oh, no. No. . . .
The circuit breakers in MH-10 had been reset. They would now allow through their portal ten times the safe load.
If the Algonquin control center couldn't reduce the pressure of the voltage assaulting the substation soon, the lines and switchgear inside the place would allow through a lethally high flood of electricity. The substation would explode. But before that happened the juice would race through the distribution feeder lines into belowground transformer boxes throughout the blocks south of Lincoln Center and into the spot networks in office buildings and big high-rises. Some breakers would cut the circuit but some older transformers and service panels would just melt into a lump of conductive metal and let the current continue on its way, setting fires and exploding in arc flashes that could burn to death anybody near an appliance or wall outlet.
For the first time the supervisor thought: Terrorists. It's a terror attack. He shouted, “Call Homeland Security and the NYPD. And reset them, goddamn it. Reset the breakers.”
“They're not responding. I'm locked out of MH-Ten.”
“How can you be fucking locked out?”
“Is anybody inside? Jesus, if they are, get them out now!” Substations were unmanned, but workers occasionally went inside for routine maintenance and repairs.
The indicator bars were now into the red.
“Sir, should we shed load?”
Grinding his teeth, the supervisor was considering this. Also known as a rolling blackout, shedding load was an extreme measure in the power business. “Load” was the amount of juice that customers were using. Shedding was a manual, controlled shutdown of certain parts of the grid to prevent a larger crash of the system.
It was a power company's last resort in the battle to keep the grid up and would have disastrous consequences in the densely populated portion of Manhattan that was at risk. The damage to computers alone would be in the tens of millions, and it was possible that people would be injured or even lose their lives. Nine-one-one calls wouldn't get through. Ambulances and police cars would be stuck in traffic, with stoplights out. Elevators would be frozen. There'd be panic. Muggings and looting and rapes invariably rose during a blackout, even in daylight.
Electricity keeps people honest.
“Sir?” the technician asked desperately.
The supervisor stared at the moving voltage indicator bars. He grabbed his own phone and called his superior, a senior vice president at Algonquin. “Herb, we have a situation.” He briefed the man.
“How'd this happen?”
“We don't know. I'm thinking terrorists.”
“God. You called Homeland Security?”
“Yeah, just now. Mostly we're trying to get more power into the affected areas. We're not having much luck.”
He watched the indicator bars continue to rise through the red.
The vice president asked, “Okay. Recommendations?”
“We don't have much choice. Shed load.”
“A good chunk of the city'll go black for at least a day.”
“But I don't see any other options. With that much juice flowing in, the station'll blow if we don't do something.”
His boss thought for a moment. “There's a second transmission line running through Manhattan-Ten, right?”
The supervisor looked up at the board. A high-voltage cable went through the substation and headed west to deliver juice to parts of New Jersey. “Yes, but it's not online. It's just running through a duct there.”
“But could you splice into it and use that for supply to the diverted lines?”
“Manually? . . . I suppose, but . . . but that would mean getting people inside MH-Ten. And if we can't hold the juice back until they're finished, it'll flash. That'll kill 'em all. Or give 'em third-degrees over their entire bodies.”
A pause. “Hold on. I'm calling Jessen.”
Algonquin Consolidated's CEO. Also known, privately, as “The All-Powerful.”
As he waited, the supervisor stared at the techs surrounding him. He kept staring at the board too. The glowing red dots.
Critical failure . . .
Finally the supervisor's boss came back on. His voice cracked. He cleared his throat and after a moment said, “You're supposed to send some people in. Manually splice into the line.”
“That's what Jessen said?”
Another pause. “Yes.”
The supervisor whispered, “I can't order anybody in there. It's suicide.”
“Then find some volunteers. Jessen said you are not, understand me, not to shed load under any circumstances.”
© 2010 Jeffery Deaver
Excerpted from The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver Copyright © 2010 by Jeffery Deaver. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The closing story of The Watchmaker is one of Deaver's best works. A TRUE PROFESSIONAL, The Watchmaker is Rhyme's nemesis, the only perp to escape Rhyme's grasp...twice! The Watchmaker is the most diabolic pro hitter since the Coffin Dancer. No target is out of reach, no job is too hard. This book is GREAT.
When I saw this was a Lincoln Rhyme book, I bought it before reading the subject matter. It requires the knowledge of college level courses regarding electricity to understand the plot of this book. What has happened to Jeffrey Deaver? He is also writing Rhyme as obnoxious, petty, and close to being verbally abusive to everyone, including Amelia. Perhaps this book could have been saved if he had stopped with the explanation of all things electrical, and written more depth to his characters. I'm not sure if I will read another Deaver novel
I've been reading Deaver since the beginning, and I've always loved Lincoln Rhyme. This book was no different! Deavers twists two different cases (remember the Watchmaker?) into this thriller. I have to say the years I spent working for the power company helped me through parts of the tale, as the weapon of choice throughout the book is electricity (the Burning Wire - not a plot-buster.) Deaver's style draws you into one expectation after another; some rewarded, others not, so that the tale continues to make you guess. I wish Sachs and Dance had a stronger prescence here, but there are plenty of other well-written characters to move the tale along. Worth reading, if you've enjoyed the other Rhyme books!
Police consultant and criminologist Lincoln Rhyme is a quadriplegic who uses his partner in life and work Amelia Sachs as his field eyes and ears. As a team they have solved more cases than healthy cops. His biggest issue is boredom, which is the state he is in right now; wishing he was in Mexico City where his nemesis Richard "Watchmaker" Logan is giving authorities a merry chase. Rhyme's ennui ends when he asks to consult on another case. A substation of Algonquin Consolidated Power and Light goes off line and the computer tries to get it running by diverting power from other locales. When another substation goes black, power is diverted to the original substation that went off line. That happens several times until a wire hanging out of a substation hits a bus destroying it and killing a passenger. This was an act of sabotage and it happens two more times. With the evidence so far gathered, Lincoln thinks a disgruntled employee performed the deed as the culprit is able to control substations. HSD and FBI believe terrorists are at work due to the electronic tech they find. When Lincoln reaches the end game, he realties how wrong he has been, but has no time to wallow as he must find a way to rectify his mistake. Series fan will want to read Rhyme's latest police procedural because he allows the audience to get close and personal with his inner most feelings; as he must decide between euthanasia, experimental surgery or the status quo. The mystery is cleverly executed and the suspense remains high throughout with the enthralled audience consistently kept off guard. The Burning Wire is Lincoln at his most complete best. Harriet Klausner
Lincoln and crew work to find out who is murdering people by using electrical system
Another great Lincoln Rhyme novel! After the little piece at the end, I can't wait for the next one.
This is a page turner and you want to get to the end as quickly as possible, if only because the more you reflect as you read the more you will realise the plot is weak and unrealistic. Aside from that I couldn't enter into his attempts to create angst in his readers by constantly reminding us that electricity is invisible, all around us and could kill us at any moment. It's a lot harder to kill someone with electricity than he makes out. I've met people who touched live overhead wires and they may have lost an arm but they lived. He mentions that electricity wants to get to ground asap but seems to forget that in creating electrified buildings and such. The most redeeming factor of this book is that develops Rhyme and furthers our understanding of him and his life. Deaver is certainly heavy on plot and light on characterisation that doesn't serve his plot.
I am a big fan of the Lincoln Rhyme series, as it brings together many things I enjoy: mystery, csi, light romance, disability awareness, quality of life, caretaking, while always educating me on a new topic. In Burning Wire, the topic is electricity. I never knew how much I didn't know. I have a new respect for and appreciation for the topic. Sachs and Rhyme continue their partnership in solving a NY City terrorist killing via electricity while at the same time continuing to follow the Watchmaker case. I love a mystery where the end isn't predictible but is realistic. Deaver delivers again. Real characters solving a realistic situation. I sure hope he didn't give anyone any ideas though.
One-tenth of one amp of electricity is enough to stop your heart and kill you. Your hairdryer pulls about ten amps. Scared now? I am.Jeffery Deaver takes this simple bit of information and expands it into a thriller that you can't put down. He's writing at the top of his form in The Burning Wire and I loved this book. Non-stop thrills, plenty of things to be scared of, good guys and bad guys, and lots of things to learn about electricity.Although he's always a good writer, I've been disappointed with the recent Lincoln Rhyme novels and was beginning to wonder if Deaver had jumped the shark with this series, but this book may be one of the best in this series yet.The only downside of this book is that I'm now highly aware of how much metal I touch every single day even when it's raining and how easy it is to electrify things. Walking home from work in the rain last night I actually hesitated before pushing the button to cross the street. It's metal and has a light in it and thus could be easily wired to kill. I did touch it, but it took a minute.
Electrifying (groan) thriller that'll change how you look at your light switch.
Jeffery Deaver's series books never miss the mark. This Lincoln Rhyme story is very frightening as the villan is using electricity to kill people. It makes you a little paranoid as you're reading it with the lights, a/c and fan running! Another top notch thriller.
A year or two ago I discoverd the Lincoln Rhyme series and devoured them all, but for some reason this one just didn't grab me like the others. Nothing in particular that I can pinpoint, but perhaps the premise is getting old. However, given some changes that were made at the end of the book may acknowledge that and breathe more life into the series.
Jeffery Deaver has a new Lincoln Rhyme novel out, "The Burning Wire." It is a crime/suspense novel and it involves electricity. I will never feel quite the same about door knobs, metal doors, street lights, and my friendly local electric utility company.This a very good read. I got my copy from the library. I rate it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. It's good.
I am a huge Deaver fan. I especially like the Lincoln Rhyme collection. I am reading Roadside Crosses currently and the collection of stories in The Chopin Manuscript and Broken Window were great. Lincoln is a highly organized and brilliant investigator in the area of forensics and is quadriplegic as a result of his career. Amelia Sachs) is his partner and lover and ¿hands on¿ investigator in the field. A bus explosion, a breakdown of the power grid unable to handle it¿s ¿load¿ and threats of more terror by the "Watchman" start this thriller off with a sense of foreboding. There is a great amount of information about the power and energy that we use to run our lives and out country and it makes us remember not to take our resources for granted. This book was not a disappointment and I will continue to red Jeffrey Deaver¿s mysteries.
Audiobook......Sort of disappointing....This Lincoln Rhyme novel was overladen with technical jargon about electricity which, in my opinion, made the story drag.
The Burning Wire is the ninth novel in Jeffrey Deaver¿s Lincoln Rhyme series. This time Rhyme¿s target is a killer who utilises the power grid to cause arc flashes and set his victims on fire, or electrifies a building or an elevator to electrocute them. It seems that the people of New York are under threat unless the Algonquin Power company acquiesces to demands made by letter. The authorities fear terrorism, eco- or other. Whilst Amelia Sachs, Ron Pulaski, Mel Cooper and Lon Sellitto work at a frantic pace to process the crime scenes and investigate further, and Fred Dellray makes a dubious move to get information from one of his CIs, Rhyme is also monitoring the progress of the possible apprehension in Mexico of Richard Logan aka The Watchmaker. Once again, Deaver gives fast-paced action with a few plot twists. Apart from one or two false notes (uncharacteristic behaviour that should have been obvious to those present), once again, a great read.
Not meant for students - this is one of the few adult books I read over the holidays. I love the Lincoln Rhyme books, and very unusually, I love them even more after having seen Denzel Washington bring the character to life. Usually the movie ruins the books for me, but in this case, I agree with the actor's interpretation of the books.
Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are back. This time they are investigating a serial murderer who is sabotaging the electrical grid in NYC. The first incident is catostrophic to a bus stopping to leave passengers in front of the offices of the power company. The second will electrocute many people in a public place. A lot of details about the power of electricity and how little of it is needed to electrocute. Deaver also talks about greening and how we need to lessen our dependency, but how can we? Could most of America live without air conditioning in the summer? What about our TV's, computers, syncing our iPods and other devices? Quadriplegics such as Rhyme need electricity to survive. five stars.
I've long been a follower of Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series. I read the books for the excitement and for the forensic knowledge that I get from them. But this book was not my favourite. I found all the explanations about electricity and its dangers a little tedious after awhile, and I found that the stretches to get from Point A to Point B to the denouement of the killer were a little bit too wide to be believable. I have certainly read much better books where apparently two separate plot lines and two separate cases eventually turn into only one. This one just didn't make it believable for me. But the usually curmudgeonly Rhyme is up to par and I enjoy the character. I just didn't feel the tension and the excitement that these books generally provide for me. I've given it a 4, but it really is a 3 1/2. The extra half point is for Deaver's usual novel writing skills.
Spoiler sensitive need not continue.He didn't get me this time. I had my suspicions about the real plot and the Watchmaker's involvement. I don't know how much of it was me being clever or just suspecting everyone when I read one of these now, but when he showed up it wasn't surprising. Then it was only whether the thing was a set up (a trap) or if there would have to be some hair-brained rescue at the end since there was quite a bit of book left.The handling of Dellray's side of the case and his boss's attitude was a bit heavy handed. I mean, what else could happen after all his ineffectiveness and brooding? Vindication, that's what and of course we got it. Eh, I wasn't caught up in it and so it fell kind of flat. I also tripped over and was distracted by several clunky sentences scattered around, like "the criminalist said". Now really, that's a bit community college Creative Writing 1 if you ask me. We know who Rhyme is and what he is so just tell us who's speaking and leave the aides de memoir out of it. I haven't noticed this kind of amateurish prose in Deaver books before, but it stuck out this time.Funny that at the beginning of the book I mused that Rhyme's condition didn't take up much time and that he seemed present and in top form at all hours of the day. In the past more emphasis was put on how much of his life was taken up by the necessities imposed by his paralysis and that we'd veered away from that for a while. Then he had that episode and again Rhyme was prevented by his condition from communicating or otherwise helping in an investigation. Trigger guilt and unhappiness. But the visit from Susan Stringer was enough to keep me from thinking the worst at the end and his trip to the hospital wasn't a guessing game for me; I knew he went to have something done to improve his condition and leave him more able and effective. I'm glad it went that way and we'll have a bit of bionic Rhyme to deal with in the future.
Just couldn't get into this book. Way too much technical information, and I wasn't interested in plowing through it. I have 1000 books, and I don't need to force myself to read one!!
Plenty of suspense and action. You will be on the edge of your seat the entire book.
and sci fi combo secret weapon mad scientist combo is a good way to end it all if you were ever into reading a few two words borrow this critique