The Coffin Dancer: A Novel

The Coffin Dancer: A Novel

by Jeffery Deaver

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“Lincoln Rhyme is more relentless than ever” (People) and Jeffery Deaver delivers “supercharged tension” (USA TODAY) in this New York Times bestselling suspense masterwork.

NYPD criminalist Lincoln Rhyme joins his beautiful protégée Amelia Sachs, in the hunt for the Coffin Dancer—an ingenious killer who changes his appearance even faster than he adds to his trail of victims. They have only one clue: the madman has a tattoo of the Grim Reaper waltzing with a woman in front of a coffin. Rhyme must rely on his wits and intuition to track the elusive murderer through New York City—knowing they have only forty-eight hours before the Coffin Dancer strikes again.

This is a “heart-stopping” (Booklist) thriller from #1 international bestselling author Jeffery Deaver’s “simply outstanding” (San Jose Mercury News) Lincoln Rhyme series!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476796550
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 08/25/2015
Series: Lincoln Rhyme Series
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 78,547
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jeffery Deaver is the #1 international bestselling author of more than forty novels, three collections of short stories, and a nonfiction law book. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into 25 languages. His first novel featuring Lincoln Rhyme, The Bone Collector, was made into a major motion picture starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie, which is currently being adapted for television by NBC.

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.


Washington, D.C.

Date of Birth:

May 6, 1950

Place of Birth:

Chicago, Illinois


B.A., University of Missouri; Juris Doctor, cum laude, Fordham University School of Law

Read an Excerpt

The Coffin Dancer

  • When Edward Carney said good-bye to his wife, Percey, he never thought it would be the last time he’d see her.

    He climbed into his car, which was parked in a precious space on East Eighty-first Street in Manhattan, and pulled into traffic. Carney, an observant man by nature, noticed a black van parked near their town house. A van with mud-flecked, mirrored windows. He glanced at the battered vehicle and recognized the West Virginia plates, realizing he’d seen the van on the street several times in the past few days. But then the traffic in front of him sped up. He caught the end of the yellow light and forgot the van completely. He was soon on the FDR Drive, cruising north.

    Twenty minutes later he juggled the car phone and called his wife. He was troubled when she didn’t answer. Percey’d been scheduled to make the flight with him—they’d flipped a coin last night for the left-hand seat and she’d won, then given him one of her trademark victory grins. But then she’d wakened at 3 A.M. with a blinding migraine, which had stayed with her all day. After a few phone calls they’d found a substitute copilot and Percey’d taken a Fiorinal and gone back to bed.

    A migraine was the only malady that would ground her.

    Lanky Edward Carney, forty-five years old and still wearing a military hairstyle, cocked his head as he listened to the phone ringing miles away. Their answering machine clicked on and he returned the phone to the cradle, mildly concerned.

    He kept the car at exactly sixty miles per hour, centered perfectly in the right lane; like most pilots he was conservative in his car. He trusted other airmen but thought most drivers were crazy.

    In the office of Hudson Air Charters, on the grounds of Mamaroneck Regional Airport, in Westchester, a cake awaited. Prim and assembled Sally Anne, smelling like the perfume department at Macy’s, had baked it herself to commemorate the company’s new contract. Wearing the ugly rhinestone biplane brooch her grandchildren had given her last Christmas, she scanned the room to make sure each of the dozen or so employees had a piece of devil’s food sized just right for them. Ed Carney ate a few bites of cake and talked about tonight’s flight with Ron Talbot, whose massive belly suggested he loved cake though in fact he survived mostly on cigarettes and coffee. Talbot wore the dual hats of operations and business manager and he worried out loud if the shipment would be on time, if the fuel usage for the flight had been calculated correctly, if they’d priced the job right. Carney handed him the remains of his cake and told him to relax.

    He thought again about Percey and stepped away into his office, picked up the phone.

    Still no answer at their town house.

    Now concern became worry. People with children and people with their own business always pick up a ringing phone. He slapped the receiver down, thought about calling a neighbor to check up on her. But then the large white truck pulled up in front of the hangar next to the office and it was time to go to work. Six P.M.

    Talbot gave Carney a dozen documents to sign just as young Tim Randolph arrived, wearing a dark suit, white shirt, and narrow black tie. Tim referred to himself as a “copilot” and Carney liked that. “First officers” were company people, airline creations, and while Carney respected any man who was competent in the right-hand seat, pretension put him off.

    Tall, brunette Lauren, Talbot’s assistant, had worn her lucky dress, whose blue color matched the hue of the Hudson Air logo—a silhouette of a falcon flying over a gridded globe. She leaned close to Carney and whispered, “It’s going to be okay now, won’t it?”

    “It’ll be fine,” he assured her. They embraced for a moment. Sally Anne hugged him too and offered him some cake for the flight. He demurred. Ed Carney wanted to be gone. Away from the sentiment, away from the festivities. Away from the ground.

    And soon he was. Sailing three miles above the earth, piloting a Lear 35A, the finest private jet ever made, clear of markings or insignia except for its N registration number, polished silver, sleek as a pike.

    They flew toward a stunning sunset—a perfect orange disk easing into big, rambunctious clouds, pink and purple, leaking bolts of sunlight.

    Only dawn was as beautiful. And only thunderstorms more spectacular.

    It was 723 miles to O’Hare and they covered that distance in less than two hours. Air Traffic Control’s Chicago Center politely asked them to descend to fourteen thousand feet, then handed them off to Chicago Approach Control.

    Tim made the call. “Chicago Approach. Lear Four Niner Charlie Juliet with you at one four thousand.”

    “Evening, Niner Charlie Juliet,” said yet another placid air traffic controller. “Descend and maintain eight thousand. Chicago altimeter thirty point one one. Expect vectors to twenty-seven L.”

    “Roger, Chicago. Niner Charlie Juliet out of fourteen for eight.”

    O’Hare is the busiest airport in the world and ATC put them in a holding pattern out over the western suburbs of the city, where they’d circle, awaiting their turn to land.

    Ten minutes later the pleasant, staticky voice requested, “Niner Charlie Juliet, heading zero nine zero over the numbers downwind for twenty-seven L.”

    “Zero nine zero. Nine Charlie Juliet,” Tim responded.

    Carney glanced up at the bright points of constellations in the stunning gunmetal sky and thought, Look, Percey, it’s all the stars of evening . . .

    And with that he had what was the only unprofessional urge of perhaps his entire career. His concern for Percey arose like a fever. He needed desperately to speak to her.

    “Take the aircraft,” he said to Tim.

    “Roger,” the young man responded, hands going unquestioningly to the yoke.

    Air Traffic Control crackled, “Niner Charlie Juliet, descend to four thousand. Maintain heading.”

    “Roger, Chicago,” Tim said. “Niner Charlie Juliet out of eight for four.”

    Carney changed the frequency of his radio to make a unicom call. Tim glanced at him. “Calling the Company,” Carney explained. When he got Talbot he asked to be patched through the telephone to his home.

    As he waited, Carney and Tim went through the litany of the pre-landing check.

    “Flaps approach . . . twenty degrees.”

    “Twenty, twenty, green,” Carney responded.

    “Speed check.”

    “One hundred eighty knots.”

    As Tim spoke into his mike—“Chicago, Niner Charlie Juliet, crossing the numbers; through five for four”—Carney heard the phone start to ring in their Manhattan town house, seven hundred miles away.

    Come on, Percey. Pick up! Where are you?

    Please . . .

    ATC said, “Niner Charlie Juliet, reduce speed to one eight zero. Contact tower. Good evening.”

    “Roger, Chicago. One eight zero knots. Evening.”

    Three rings.

    Where the hell is she? What’s wrong?

    The knot in his gut grew tighter.

    The turbofan sang, a grinding sound. Hydraulics moaned. Static crackled in Carney’s headset.

    Tim sang out, “Flaps thirty. Gear down.”

    “Flaps, thirty, thirty, green. Gear down. Three green.”

    And then, at last—in his earphone—a sharp click.

    His wife’s voice saying, “Hello?”

    He laughed out loud in relief.

    Carney started to speak but, before he could, the aircraft gave a huge jolt—so vicious that in a fraction of a second the force of the explosion ripped the bulky headset from his ears and the men were flung forward into the control panel. Shrapnel and sparks exploded around them.

    Stunned, Carney instinctively grabbed the unresponsive yoke with his left hand; he no longer had a right one. He turned toward Tim just as the man’s bloody, rag-doll body disappeared out of the gaping hole in the side of the fuselage.

    “Oh, God. No, no . . . ”

    Then the entire cockpit broke away from the disintegrating plane and rose into the air, leaving the fuselage and wings and engines of the Lear behind, engulfed in a ball of gassy fire.

    “Oh, Percey,” he whispered, “Percey . . . ” Though there was no longer a microphone to speak into.

  • Customer Reviews

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    The Coffin Dancer (Lincoln Rhyme Series #2) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 142 reviews.
    scully60 More than 1 year ago
    This was a reread. I first read this book in 2000 and decided to read it again last year. I gained more insights into the story on the second read. Jeffery Deaver is a master of suspense. This book has you constantly turning the pages unable to put it down. If you want a excellent suspense read this is a great choice.
    Neil_Collins More than 1 year ago
    This is the second Jeffery Deaver book I've read, and also the second of his Lincoln Rhyme series. (The Bone Collector was first). I think I enjoyed The Coffin Dancer even more than The Bone Collector, and I saw some real development in the characters, mainly Lincoln and Amelia Sachs, the primary protagonists. I found the story very well constructed and the telling quite good. I also really liked the way the reader is drawn to a certain perspective regarding the antagonist, setting the stage for a totally unexpected plot twist as the story reaches its climax. In short, Deaver did a great job steering us exactly where he wanted us to go, letting us discover the truth along with Lincoln and Amelia. No formulaic predictable ending here! As always, Deaver's understanding of his topic and the locations add greatly to his story telling. There is much visual detail that brings the reader into the scene. My one complaint is a minor one. Deaver goes into some detail about the ammunition the killer is using in his M-40 sniper rifle, as well as some technical detail about the rifle and the sniper's technique. He relates how the killer transformed "M118 Match Rounds" into "explosive" bullets by drilling into the core, filling it with an explosive charge, and then topping it with a ceramic tip "that would pierce most kinds of body armor." While the M118 (Military designation for a .308 cartridge firing a 173 grain boat-tailed projectile) was a correct long range round used by military snipers, the more common "Match round" in use today is the 168 grain boat-tail hollow-point. Both of these rounds, without alteration, will defeat common body armor as worn by many street cops; the purpose of which is to protect from handgun rounds. The idea of drilling out a "match" bullet is ridiculous, as it would require machining with micrometer precision to tolerances greater than .0001 of an inch; and it would still render the bullet far less accurate, especially if some substance were loaded into the tiny cavity. Adding a "ceramic nose" would further diminish the uniformity and accuracy. To then load a magazine full (five) of these "explosive rounds" into the rifle and slam them into the chamber, one after another, is asking to have the whole thing blow up in your face. Probably why no such rounds exist. I point this out only because it was unnecessary to the story, and made me wonder what other technical items that I'm not versed in might be made up. I realize it's fiction, but I want to be able to believe the story could happen. That issue aside, I loved The Coffin Dancer and will be reading more from Jeffery Deaver soon!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    A very entertaining read! Deaver has quickly turned into one of my favorite authors. I'd give it 4 1/2 stars if possible, but I save the 5 star rating for the absolute best of the best... Never a dull moment in this book!
    Anonymous 24 days ago
    Another Lincoln Rhyme/Amelia Sachs thriller.
    Neverwithoutabook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Well, Book two in the Lincoln Rhyme series did not disappoint! I enjoyed The Coffin Dancer every bit as much as The Bone Collector. The action is fast paced and the setting was particularly interesting since I love planes and flying. Once again, the story keeps you going, thinking you know who dunit and you find out in the wouldn't really want me to tell you...would you? ;) If there's a movie of this book, I'll be watching it. I'm looking forward to the third installment in this series and can't wait! That should tell you all you really need to know!
    JechtShot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are paired together again to uncover the identify of the mysterious Coffin Dancer. The Coffin Dancer is a hit man with a knack for getting the job done, leaving no evidence behind and for being about three steps ahead of the police. Enter Lincoln Rhyme. Lincoln has dealt with the Coffin Dancer in the past and lost, now it is time to turn the tide.The story is action packed and keeps you guessing throughout and my only complaint is the love interest that is brewing between the main characters. In my opinion the story can do without the romance. In my mind Rhyme and Sachs have more a father/daughter or teacher/student relationship and the budding romance feels a tad incestuous.Jeffrey Deaver once again delivers a police thriller/mystery with an ending that is sure to delight.
    mawshimp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    When a well-written mystery can keep me engaged and yet totally surprise me ... I am very impressed! Second in this series and LOVING it!
    CentralCaliGrrrl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Am I the only person who's upset that Mr. Deaver ended The Bone Collector with a ¿cliffhanger¿, i.e. bomber, Carole Ganz (along with her young daughter, Pammy), blowing up the UN conference...and then NOTHING?I started The Coffin Dancer thinking that it would continue where The Bone Collector left off, so you can imagine my disappointment when I realized that nothing was going to be resolved at all.WTF?! Other than that, The Coffin Dancer was a good, stand-alone thriller that kept me guessing until the very end. I'm looking forward to reading The Empty Chair (Lincoln Rhyme #3).3 1/2 stars
    barpurple on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I found this one to be an ok read. Didn't blow me away.
    ctfrench on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A bomb used to murder a federal witness convinces criminologist Lincoln Rhyme that the Coffin Dancer has returned to New York. Rhyme would like nothing more than to arrest the Coffin Dancer, who murdered several of his team members years before. But the Coffin Dancer is a master of disguise and always seems to stay one step ahead of the police. The two remaining targeted federal witnesses are taken into protective custody but the killer manages to infiltrate their safe houses each time the witnesses are moved. Amelia Sachs conducts a physical investigation while Rhyme, a quadriplegic, investigates from his own lab, both working against a forty-eight hour time frame. This second book in the Lincoln Rhyme mystery series confirms this is a series that will be around for awhile. Deaver offers his reader a thrilling mystery packed with forensic science. Rhyme and Sachs are a winning combination and Deaver delves a little deeper into their personas and attraction to one another. A page turner that will hold the reader vested throughout.
    bragan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A ruthless professional killer is hired to eliminate three witnesses set to testify at an arms dealer's grand jury trial. He's already gotten one of them, and it's up to Lincoln Rhyme, a brilliant forensics expert who hasn't let the accident that paralyzed him keep him from his job, to catch him before he kills the other two.I don't think I can call this a good book. If I'm being extremely charitable, I might describe the writing as "unpretentious," and even then I'd have to admit that it's full of infodump-y and often strangely repetitive exposition, especially in the earlier chapters. There are a few Hollywood-style cliches here, too. And some of the characters strike me as rather gimmicky. I particularly have trouble getting past the gorgeous ex-model-turned-cop. I mean... seriously? Although I'm honestly not sure whether the fact that she's also into sport shooting and drag racing makes it better or worse. I did like the main character, though. He's got a slightly gruff, very focused personality that somehow appeals to me. Or at least potentially does, anyway; he's not really developed all that strongly here. Maybe he gets a better introduction in the first book, which I haven't read. The plot's not bad, though, being a decently constructed little cat-and-mouse game with an interesting (if slightly odd) twist or two along the way. Ultimately, I found the book much more readable and entertaining than it seemed like it ought to be. If nothing else, it did a pretty good job of keeping me awake through a couple of otherwise boring night shifts. Honestly, reading it was a lot like snacking through a big bag of cheap potato chips. You know there are much better things you could be consuming, but the sheer act of munching through it feels kind of good.
    ctmsludu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    The Coffin Dancer wasn't the normal book by Jeffery Deaver. It wasn't a stomach turning, gut wrenching horror but a spine tingling thriller.The cons about the book were that it wasn't the norm for Deaver and some parts made my stomach turn. The pros were that it kept me on the edge of my seat always wanting to read on.Also an unsuspected twist keeps you wondering whats gonna happen next.
    ctmsmihe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This book was about a guy that goes around killing a bunch of people. That is all I really know about the book because I only read 35 pages. I only read 35 pages because I could not understand what was going on in the story and there were a lot of words that I didn't understand and I had a hard time reading some of the words also. I didn¿t really understand what was going on cause things that you didn¿t expect to happen was happening so I had a really hard time following what was going on. When I first heard about this book I was really into it because it was about CSI and things like that. So I would recommend this book to people that are into CSI and that are really strong readers.
    Jeyra on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Excellent, particularly if you are a fan of somewhat twisted forensic mysteries. Both main characters are unique and brilliantly written. Contains language and violence.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    You will be on the edge of your seat the entire book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Outstanding, remarkable, best read, highly recommend. Lots of twists and turns, keep you guessing till the end.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Deaver is one of the very best mystery writers. Lincoln Rhyme is a quadriplegic former cop. He does all his work using a mobile chair and several really good detectives. He always gets his "man" but you'd never guess it until the very end.
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Awesome book its for everyone who loves reading mysteries/ crime.
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