Books Airplane Reading
posted by May 29 at 13:00 PMon
It used to be, when I went to BEA as a bookseller, I’d try to read a classic, in order to keep my head amid all the shiny new free books. I’ve read The Scarlet Letter at BEA—if you haven’t read that book since high school, you really should; it’s amazing—and one year, pretentiously, I brought Billy Budd along with me. But since I started writing Constant Reader, every time that I’ve flown, I’ve tried to read something popular.
This time, I brought The Broken Window, by Jeffery Deaver. This is a Lincoln Rhyme mystery, which may ring a bell for you because of The Bone Collector, an adaptation of a Deaver novel of the same name starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. I’ve been reading these books for years—they’re the definition of guilty pleasures. Lincoln Rhyme is a paralyzed forensics detective. His lover and partner is Amelia Sachs, a former model and muscle-car enthusiast who is a tough-as-nails cop.
These books are bad. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the hell out of them, but they’re super-poorly written. Especially when Deaver tries to write African-American dialogue, which invariably sounds like something out of Song of the South. Rhyme sends Sachs out to investigate crime scenes left by meticulously clean serial killers. Sachs almost always winds up captured by the serial killers. And things end happily, but Rhyme remains grim.
Deaver loathed the casting of Denzel Washington as Lincoln Rhyme. You can tell this because, in just about every Rhyme mystery that has come out since The Bone Collector movie, Deaver comments about how much Rhyme looks like Tom Cruise.
Window is about identity theft, and the serial killer is of course someone who uses the system to track victims. Things are going well for the killer, until he accidentally frames Rhyme’s cousin. Then, of course, he’s in the shit. I read this book in one sitting, from the airport to the runway at LAX. All I can say is, if you dig on pulp geniuses—from Sherlock Holmes to Doc Savage—this might be your thing. Just don’t expect anything resembling good writing.
I think that Deaver might be a little sensitive about the quality of his work, though. The dedication on this one reads:
To a dear friend, the written word.
Sure thing, Jeff. Your Nobel is right around the corner. Just keep the cheesy forensic mysteries coming.