Hardcover: 421 pages
Publisher: Penguin Group USA Mar 1997
The first in the Lincoln Rhyme series, The Bone Collector is about a forensic scientist, known to his peers as "the world's foremost criminalist". Injured during a crime scene search, Rhyme is a quadriplegic, confined to a bed in his Manhattan apartment, and cared for by his aide, Thom. He has limited use of the ring finger of his left hand, which he uses to operate some state of the art equipment that enables him to view evidence and assists him in solving crimes.
New York City is experiencing a series of gruesome kidnappings and murders, the first of which is a man buried alive on a train track with his forearm sticking out of the ground. He is discovered by NYPD cop, Amelia Sachs, who stops a train and closes a busy NYC street in order to preserve the crime scene. When Rhyme is asked to assist in the solving the case, he wants Sachs to act as his legs at the crime scenes.
The villain, a serial killer who models his crimes on ones he finds in a book on criminal life in old New York, dispenses of his victims in ways guaranteed to make you cringe. All this takes place in the course of one weekend as the killer leaves clues as to where he's going to strike next.
There is drama and suspense on every page, up to and including the climactic battle to the death at the end.
Synopsis (from the author's website)
Lincoln Rhyme, ex-head of NYPD forensics, was the nation's foremost criminalist, the man who could work a crime scene and come away with a perfect profile of the killer, frozen in time. Now, Lincoln is frozen in place — permanently. An accident on the job left him a quadriplegic who can move just one finger, a great mind strapped to his bed, mulish and sarcastic, hiding from a life he no longer wants to live.
Until he sees the crime-scene report about a corpse found buried on a deserted West Side railroad track, its bloody hand rising from the dirt. It belonged to a man who got into a cab at the airport and never got out. Reluctantly, Lincoln Rhyme abandons retirement to track down a killer whose ingenious clues hold the secret to saving his victims — if Rhyme can decipher them in time. The search leads him to the Bone Collector, whose obsession with old New York colors every scrap of evidence he leaves for Rhyme and his new partner, Amelia Sachs, whom he drafts as his arms and legs. But she's never worked a crime scene in her life — and he can only whisper in her ear as she does the exacting work he loved more than anything else.