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The Twelfth Card: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel    by Jeffery Deaver order for
Twelfth Card
by Jeffery Deaver
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are back in a series that, amazingly, keeps getting better, even considering its brilliant beginning in The Bone Collector. This time, Jeffery Deaver interweaves a modern criminal investigation (with the fascination of all Rhyme's usual forensic analysis) and a historical puzzle.

Geneva Settle, a slim, intelligent, black high school student, is targeted while researching her ancestor for a school project. Charles Singleton was an ex-slave, a Civil War veteran and property owner, who knew Frederick Douglass, and whose letters home spoke of a secret. He was accused of a crime and Geneva wants to find out what happened to him. She escapes, by quick thinking and fast action, what seems to be a rape attempt in a museum library. But why does the perfectionist perpetrator return to the scene to shoot someone else, and what made him use such horrific home made bullets? Rhyme's team finds similar M.O.'s in Ohio and Texas killings, and looks for connections, while their historical search links Singleton to early civil rights activism and the 14th Amendment. Rhyme is quickly convinced that Geneva is still a target and she reluctantly accepts protection. Just as well, as the bad guy has an ally, resulting in more than one close call for Geneva, and more deaths.

Over time, Rhyme's personal situation has improved from his suicidal, bedridden years. The quadriplegic has a lover (Amelia), is able to get around in a wheelchair, and now is involved in an exercise program that offers a faint hope of increased mobility. Deaver is as always a master of misdirection, with regular unexpected twists of plot. He enhances his main storyline with interesting secondaries and sub-plots, such as Lon Selitto's crisis of confidence after a killing hits too close for comfort. But what I've especially enjoyed about this series recently are Deaver's heroines - steely, yet vulnerable, young women, from Amelia herself to illusionist Kara of The Vanished Man (she has a walk on role this time too), and now the indomitable Geneva Settle. Don't miss The Twelfth Card.

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