“The Burial Hour” by Jeffery Deaver incorporates his usual writing style with misdirection and plot twists. The subject matter is timely and relevant, taking into account the many concerns of the Western world.
Although the plot begins in New York the main setting is in Italy, where the classics play an important role, intertwining Greek gods with legendary musical compositions of “The Blue Danube,” “The Nutcracker” and “Danse Macabre.”
The plot begins with the abduction of a business executive in Manhattan by someone known as “The Composer.” Left behind at the scene is a small hangman’s noose. Lincoln Rhymes, the notable forensics investigator and his fiancé, police Det. Amelia Sachs, get word that a similar kidnapping occurred in Naples, Italy. They decide to fly there and join forces with the Italian investigating team, led by prosecutor Dante Spiro and a legal liaison in the U.S. State Department.
As the dots get connected, it appears all the victims are refugees. The team must battle their worst enemy, time, trying to find “The Composer” before he succeeds in killing one of the people snatched, apparently for no better reason than to record the sounds they make as they are choked to death.
“The bad guy, Stefan, is obsessed with sound,” Deaver said. “I enjoy writing an eerie depth to my villains so they have substance. Stefan ponders how music speaks to someone including what history would have sounded like, the words of Judas or Abraham Lincoln. I think as a society we are not as attuned to sound as we used to be because of the overload. Robert Frost once said that ‘you can induce meaning from sound, independent of words.’ I wanted to show the emotional sides of sound in this book. Stefan is moved by the combination of notes and timing. There is something about the three-quarter tempo of a waltz I find pretty engrossing, which is why I used those musical classics.”
This book has Lincoln traveling to Italy. With the new setting also comes a new direction for his profession. Since he is a formidable forensics investigator he uses his skills to get more involved with other types of crimes.
Deaver did not see as a problem having Lincoln, a quadriplegic, move around the world.
“Even in New York he sits in a room while Amelia does most of the legwork,” Deaver said. “I chose Italy because it cannot escape the classics. Also, this story had to move more slowly because life in Southern Italy does move slowly. The story is tied to the Italian law enforcement system that is more leisurely and takes a holistic approach to justice. To make the plot move faster I had to extract elements of crimes.”
“The Burial Hour” has many turns. It is interesting to see how Deaver took his character out of his safe zone. Incorporating sound and music is a twist that readers will find interesting.