Jeffrey Deaver is an American crime and mystery writer best known for the Lincoln Rhyme thrillers. Deaver has written a plethora of works including 5 additional, shorter series written between 1988 and 2021.
The Lincoln Rhyme series contains 16 books and follows an ex-criminologist, who specialized in forensics. Now, Lincoln Rhyme is a completely different man. After a severe accident left Rhyme emotionally and physically damaged, he could no longer fulfill the requirements of his beloved job.
But Lincoln Rhyme has dedication unlike anything you’ve ever seen before and despite his mental and physical drawbacks, he still manages to get himself in the thick of it.
This series won the 2009 Lovey Award for Best Series and continues to compel fans, who currently eagerly anticipate the new Lincoln Rhyme release which is expected in November of this year.
Deaver has a distinct and compelling writing style and his sarcastic, intelligent protagonist has kept readers hooked throughout the whole series. Deaver’s plot lines are complex and intricately constructed and frequently contain graphic and gory scenes, which many readers love!
With fast-paced plots, twists at every corner, and realistic investigative details such as the collection and analysis of crime scene evidence, you’ll never get bored.
A quick disclaimer: this book is jam-packed with trigger warnings. It has details of suicidal intent, murder, and kidnappings, so please be careful when reading.
About the Author
Jeffrey Deaver was born in May 1950 near Chicago, Illinois. He was born into a creative family – his mother was an artist, his father was a writer working in advertising and his sister was an aspiring novelist, who would eventually write books targeted at young adults.
As well as being inspired by the creativity that surrounded him while growing up, Deaver was heavily influenced by the work of Ian Fleming, the famous author who created the fictional British MI6 agent, James Bond. He claimed that Fleming’s novels Casino Royale (1953) and From Russia With Love (1957) encouraged him to begin writing himself. Deaver now gets his inspiration from quiet, dark areas, claiming he ‘shut[s] the lights out’ before starting to write.
His love for the James Bond novels and respect for their iconic author is further affirmed by Deaver’s 2011 standalone novel, Carte Blanche, which was commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications and acts as the 37th book in the Bond series. This book interestingly interweaves a mixture of Deaver and Fleming’s writing styles and follows James Bond into the depths of Serbia.
At the early age of 11, Deaver wrote his first ‘book’ and took inspiration from other thriller writers at the beginning of his career. His first pieces were published thanks to his role in a high school newspaper. He worked as a reporter for the school newspaper and the editor of his high school’s literary magazine.
He attended the University of Missouri, graduating with a degree in journalism before starting at Fordham University in New York City, where he obtained a law degree. Following graduation, Deaver worked as an attorney practicing corporate law for a while, which he claims gave him the patience and motivation to heavily research the science behind his novels. He roughly spends 8 months researching and planning his storylines before writing.
His first published novels were called Voodoo and Always a Thief. These two books are now out of print and will likely never be reprinted. They were published by a small, now out-of-business publishing house called Paperjacks. Deaver decided to experiment with themes of supernaturalism in Voodoo but decided against using similar topics in future works.
Unlike many thriller writers who previously worked in medical, forensic, or legal fields and draw upon their experiences for writing inspiration, Deaver certifies that he keeps his ‘own experiences largely separate’ from his novels.
Deaver’s books follow a certain style, one loved by many. His stories include a complicated overarching plot with many unexpected twists and a strong lead protagonist who is typically flawed in the most lovable way.
However, interestingly, most of his novels are set over a short timeline (a matter of hours), which adds to the fast-paced feel that runs throughout the books. His construction of villains is also worth mentioning. Deaver creates intelligent but very twisted ‘baddies’ who are always looking for new, evil ways of committing crimes. Many readers have praised the polarity between Deaver’s heroes and villains.
Let’s take a look at his primary novels in more detail.
All Jeffery Deaver Books in Order
Some of Deaver’s books overlap into different series. Books such as XO feature in both the Lincoln Rhyme series list and the Kathryn Dance list because it features both characters. If the characters are included, whether their contribution be major or minor, the book is included in the list.
The Lincoln Rhyme Series
The Bone Collector (1997)
The Bone Collector introduces the quadriplegic detective determined to track a new killer capable of brutal murders. This series debut also introduces the beloved Amelia Sachs, a police detective that helps Rhyme solve mysteries.
The Coffin Dancer (1998)
The Coffin Dancer exposes Rhyme to another brilliantly intelligent killer. With barely any trace to follow and only a tattoo to help them identify this dangerous new murderer, Rhyme and Sachs have their work cut out for them.
The Empty Chair (2000)
Shortly after major spinal surgery, Lincoln Rhyme and his detective-in-tow Amelia Sachs are faced with a new case. A teenager has been brutally murdered and two young women have been kidnapped. The Empty Chair is a race against time but Sachs and Rhyme will stop at nothing to return the girls safely.
The Stone Monkey (2002)
The Stone Monkey follows Sachs and Rhyme as they journey to New York City’s docks to find a cargo ship filled with illegal Chinese immigrants.
The Vanished Man (2003)
When a mysterious killer disappears into thin air, Rhyme must go on a mission to track them down before he commits any other horrifying murders. The Vanished Man presents a nearly impossible case that will push Rhyme to his limits.
The Twelfth Card (2005)
In The Twelfth Card, Rhyme must dive back into the secrets of the past to uncover the truth about a hitman whose next target is a young girl in Harlem.
The Cold Moon (2006)
The Cold Moon puts Rhyme and Sachs under another time pressure but this time, it’s a lot more sinister. After a meticulous killer leaves clocks at each of his murder scenes, Rhyme knows he’s dealing with a whole new type of danger.
The Broken Window (2008)
The Broken Window follows as Rhyme helps his cousin out of the firing line. After being charged with murder, it becomes obvious that Arthur is being framed as part of someone’s intricate and thorough plan.
The Burning Wire (2010)
As terrorist attacks swarm New York City, Rhyme knows he must pull out all the stops, quickly. The Burning Wire follows as Rhyme, Sachs, Officer Ron Pulaski, and undercover Officer Fred Dellray all work together to ensure the safety and security of the city once more.
XO predominantly centers around Kathryn Dance but features Lincoln Rhyme in various scenes.
The Kill Room (2013)
After the assassination of an American citizen in the Bahamas, Rhyme is asked to investigate and track down the sniper. The Kill Room is a tense chase that will lead our favorite characters down dangerous paths.
The Skin Collector (2014)
The Skin Collector introduces us to a new, twisted murderer that uses some gruesome and unique killing methods.
The Steel Kiss (2016)
The Steel Kiss follows as Rhyme and Sachs uncover the truth about an ‘accident’ that unleashed a dangerous killer.
The Burial Hour (2017)
The Burial Hour begins as a businessman is kidnapped, with a 9-year-old girl as the only witness. When recordings of the victim circulate, showing the man being slowly hanged to death, the investigation takes a turn.
The Cutting Edge (2018)
The Cutting Edge follows Rhyme and Sachs who work together to solve a triple murder.
The Midnight Lock (2021)
An intruder, nicknamed ‘The Locksmith’ is breaking into homes across the city and taunting his victims. The Midnight Lock follows a tense investigation that will come to threaten Rhyme’s job.
The Watchmaker’s Hand (Expected November 2023)
The Watchmaker’s Hand is the eagerly anticipated new release in the Lincoln Rhyme series.
The Lincoln Rhyme series also contains two short stories. The first, A Textbook Case (2013), is positioned between XO and The Kill Room, and the second, The Deliveryman (2016), is wedged between The Skin Collector and The Steel Kiss.
The Kathryn Dance Series
- The Cold Moon (2006)
- The Sleeping Doll (2007)
- Roadside Crosses (2009)
- The Burning Wire (2010)
- XO (2012)
- Solitude Creek (2015)
The Colter Shaw Series
This series also contains two short stories. The first, Captivated (2019), acts as a prequel to The Never Game, and the second, The Second Hostage (2020) is sandwiched between The Never Game and The Goodbye Man. This series can be read with or without short stories.
The Rune Trilogy
The John Pellam Series
The Harold Middleton Series
Standalone Novels (In Publication Order)
These books are separate stories and can be read in any order but here they are listed in publication order.
- The Mistress of Justice (1992)
- The Lesson of Her Death (1993)
- Praying for Sleep (1994)
- A Maiden’s Grave (1995)
- The Devil’s Teardrop (1999) – includes a brief appearance from Lincoln Rhyme.
- Speaking in Tongues (2000)
- The Blue Nowhere (2001)
- Twisted (2003)
- Garden of Beasts (2004)
- The Bodies Left Behind (2008)
- Edge (2010)
- Carte Blanche (2011) – James Bond novel.
- No Rest for the Dead (2011) – co-authored with numerous other big thriller writers such as Kathy Reichs, Peter James, and Tess Gerritsen.
- The October List (2013)
- Ninth and Nowhere (2018)
Short Stories and Short Story Collections.
- More Twisted (2006) – a collection of stories, one of which features Lincoln Rhyme.
- Trouble in Mind (2014) – a collection of stories, featuring Lincoln Rhyme, John Pellam, and Kathryn Dance respectively.
- Double Cross (2017)
- Surprise Ending (2017)
- The Victim’s Club (2018)
- Verona (2019)
- The Debriefing (2020)
Jeffrey Deaver is a unique writer whose writing dives headfirst into the gritty heart of the crime world. With cliffhangers, twists and turns, and characters that will leave you reaching for the next book, there’s no better crime series to delve into.
If you’ve never read any of Jeffrey Deaver’s work before and you love reading fascinating stories about criminals and investigations from a realistic and unfiltered perspective, we highly recommend starting his Lincoln Rhymes series!
Frequently Asked Questions
Has any of Jeffrey Deaver’s work been adapted for the screens?
Yes, three of Deaver’s books have been adapted for TV and film. A Maiden’s Grave was the foundation for the 1997 film Dead Silence directed by Daniel Petrie Jr.
The Bone Collector, the first Lincoln Rhyme book, was made into a 1999 film of the same name starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.
And finally, The Devil’s Teardrop was the inspiration for a 2010 TV series.
What’s wrong with Lincoln Rhyme?
After a work-related incident, Lincoln Rhyme becomes a quadriplegic. Nevertheless, he continues his detective work as best he can.
What makes Jeffrey Deaver’s work so different?
With a heavy focus on forensics and evidence analysis, Deaver’s books give you a thorough insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ detective work that many crime writers exclude.
Why have there been no more Lincoln Rhyme movies?
According to the Belfast Telegraph, Jeffrey Deaver claimed there were some “legal issues to the rights of Lincoln Rhyme” preventing the production of any further films.
Steve Cavanagh and David Baldacci are both leading crime thriller novelists with similar writing styles and themes.