New York Times Best-selling author Jeffery Deaver’s latest book, The Kill Room, is a fascinating exploration of targeted assassination. The emphasis of this political thriller is on the “political.”
At the heart of the story is a complex debate where the author brilliantly presents both sides of the case of when and which American citizen should be targeted for assassination, as they are deemed dangerous to the safety of this country. He also delves into the issue of collateral damage, and a brief discussion on gun control.
The novel begins with an assassination, in the Bahamas, of a self-made millionaire, Roberto Moreno and two others who were caught in the crossfire. He is an American citizen who hates the US, campaigning against what he sees as the exploitation of those in Latin America. Deaver has the readers wondering if Moreno was an activist or a terrorist. Is he just vocally opposed to US policy or is planning an attack on the shores of the US?
The plot of The Kill Room centers on a New York assistant district attorney, Nance Laurel who is attempting to prosecute the assassin and the chief of a CIA-style government agency, the National Intelligence and Operations Service (NIOS). She approaches Lincoln Rhyme and his assistant Amelia Sachs to find evidence to use in the prosecution.
Deaver commented to blackfive, “ I wanted to look at this issue where the government takes out US citizens. As you go through the book you see both sides arising, where the debate goes back and forth throughout the whole book. The question readers should think about is should someone be targeted if they present an imminent threat and something horrific can be prevented? I wanted to raise this issue which will resonate in people’s hearts and minds.” He does this very well and at the end of the book there is a powerful discussion, which summarizes both sides.
He presents the issues through his characters with powerful interactions between them. Laurel, a new character, is driven by her desire to succeed and advance, putting that above all else. People could easily describe her as the bleeding heart liberal that never looks at the big picture. She is countered by Shreve Metzger, the director of the NIOS who believes almost anything is justified to make sure Americans are kept safe. Deaver feels that the readers should be the ones to determine if characters will reoccur, “If people like Laurel or Metzger they will probably come back.”
The main characters are Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs. Rhyme is a retired forensic scientist who has been a quadriplegic since a job accident, which almost killed him. Amelia Sachs is an NYPD detective who is Rhyme’s sidekick, and does the actual investigative work. Deaver commented about his characters, “Rhyme became a quadriplegic because I wanted a character that was purely cerebral. All he is able to do is think, but that does not make a very exciting book. I needed someone who would go out into the field and kick butt, a sidekick who can get into the head of the criminal and understand the evidence. Thus, Amelia Sachs was created to compliment Lincoln. She uses her body while he uses his mind. I made them a romantic couple to complete the whole picture.”
The eerie villain is Jacob Swann whose task is to eliminate witnesses and stop Laurel, Rhyme, and Sachs through his weapon of choice, knives. The book shows how a knife can inflict grotesque damage, and in it there is a brief debate on the issue of the 2nd Amendment. Deaver stated to blackfive, “Our friend Jacob Swann can do some really bad things with his carving knife. What is an interesting point is that the story shows the damage that can be done with a weapon other than a gun, and sometimes it is even more horrific. Look at the UK where it is almost impossible to own a gun yet people are slaughtered with knives. Why just the other day, a British soldier was murdered by two men who seemed to be self-professed Islamists, wielding knives and machetes or cleavers. The vicious killing brings home the fact that evil will persist, whatever weapons are at hand. In thinking about this soldier, and being a part of a military family, I have nothing but respect and honor for all those who keep us safe. G-d bless every soldier.”
Deaver is able to incorporate in the plot knives and cooking by presenting clues through Swann’s hobby as an amateur cook. “I know something about cooking since I consider myself an amateur chef. I wanted to have him use some of the cooking techniques for his dastardly deeds, and to give my character an interesting quirk. I also plan on publishing on my website recipes from Jacob Swann.”
He gave a heads up about his next book, The October List, due to come out this fall. It will be written backwards where the beginning of the book is the last chapter. He promises to have many twists and turns, his trademark.
The Kill Room is very powerful in its exploration of current issues. The novel is also entertaining as the reader tries to solve the crime. This book is a page-turner with nothing as it seems to be, culminating in many surprise endings.