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PREDICTABLE, COMPLETELY UNREALISTIC PLOT
am 23. Juni 2000
Perhaps I expect too much out of novels, but I usually hope to find some realism and believability in the way a story plays out. This book had neither.
The time frame in which it takes place is totally ridiculous... between Friday night at 10:30 and Saturday night / early Sunday morning, if my tabulations are correct, our villain has kidnapped 5 people, one at a time, murdered them or left them to die, and planted elaborate clues at each scene for the detectives to find. The detectives(a fashion model-turned-Kojak named Amelia and the crippled genius, the annoying Lincoln Rhyme, who knows virtually every fact about the city of New York, down to the types of dirt found in each block of one of the world's largest cities) manage to find each victim, locate the planted clues, analyze them, and use the obscure and miniscule details to lead them to the next kidnappee... 5 of such crimes solved in the course of 16 hours. (Though the mayhem begins at 10:30 pm on Friday, the first victim isn't discovered until about 9:30 am on Saturday.)
Added to this rapid-fire, breakneck-paced chain of events are several hokie plot twists... the bed-ridden quadrapelegic ex-detective Rhyme goes from attempting to hire a Jack Kevorkian style 'doctor' to put an end to his miserable existence, to finding new meaning in life as he trains his newfound protege, Amelia; the latter makes 2 or 3 major career-changing decisions, from wanting to leave her beat for a desk job, to unwittingly helping our paralyzed hero, to reporting him to her superiors for violating departmental procedures, to deciding to stick by his side through thick or thin. The investigation is first run from Rhyme's bedroom, then yanked away by the cruel and invasive FBI, then stolen back by Rhyme's ragtag group of cohorts (complete with a pair of investigators referred to as 'the Hardy Boys', who annoyingly finish each others every sentence), then partially wrenched away by the feds, then put back in the charge of Rhyme by a U.S. attorney. All of these twists and turns occur in 16 hours? SIXTEEN HOURS? (I'm sure the book continues on past the 16-hour mark... maybe the characters even catch a catnap at some point. I'll never know because I gave up on it.)
Like I said, I like plots to be believable. If this story had taken place over the course of two or three weeks, instead of less than one day, then it may have held my attention better. As it was, I made it to page 288 (out of 423 total), and I gave up, exasperated. The characters in the book didn't take one break, not to eat, sleep, take care of anything else other than this ridiculous case... I, on the other hand, had to take a break from the book. A long break.