A case with too much evidence. A race against the clock to save hundreds of lives. An aging actor takes part in a high-stakes poker game, where more than money is on the line.
And surely Lincoln Rhyme isn’t dead… is he?
These are some of the stories in Trouble in Mind, the latest collection from award winning writer, Jeffery Deaver. From a varied background as journalist, folksinger and attorney, Deaver cemented his place as master of crime with his 1997 novel The Bone Collector, the first to feature quadriplegic forensic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme. Deaver’s books are fixtures on bestseller lists around the world, and with this in mind (as well as being a fan of his Rhyme series already) I had high expectations when reading this latest work.
Trouble in Mind should appeal to regular readers of Deaver’s crime, but is unlikely to win him any new fans. Here, Deaver is undoubtedly at his best when reunited with his old characters, or writing stories longer than a typical “short” – the final tale borders on being a novella, and is one of the most enjoyable in the collection. The Lincoln Rhyme stories are as intriguing and twisted as anything in the novels, and Kathryn Dance is as dynamic as ever. A couple of the tales blur genre lines, as supernatural and sci-fi elements are brought in with twists I never saw coming.
Unfortunately, intriguing plot and interesting twists are marred by a tendency toward over-explanation: the stories are bloated, crammed with unneeded information. Novels have plenty of time to spare; we are able to settle in and learn about each character over the course of 200+ pages. Short stories have a lot less time to get ideas and plot across, so to have page after page filled with mundane details is frustrating. In one story, for example, Deaver spends a lot of time illustrating the precise blue of a minor character’s shirt, leading me to believe that perhaps this character and his blue shirt would be intrinsic to the plot – but alas, this was not the case! The blue shirt never made another appearance, and I was left feeling cheated out of a story. If ever there was a need for “show, not tell”, it is here.
While Trouble in Mind is not a bad read, and certainly has its pleasing moments, I expect more from a writer like Deaver. His strength lies in his characters, and here he simply missed the mark. Next time I think I’ll simply stick to his novels.