“The Burning Wire: a Lincoln Rhyme Novel” by Jeffery Deaver

I picked up this crime novel at the beach house where we spent Thanksgiving, and couldn’t put it down. Not wanting to steal it, I made sure to note the author so I could find it for download onto my Kindle, and I finished it promptly after the trip.

This detective story focuses on the “grid”. Yes, the electric power grid, the vast network of wires, generators, appliances, towers, etc., that brings us our light, many conveniences, and sometimes also our heat. It also brings us the occasional blackout, brownout or glitch. Much speculation has been expended on the vulnerability of the grid. Major storms bring havoc, and the possibility of sabotage cannot be ignored.

One reason the grid fascinates me is that I play a tiny role in the “big picture” of electric power management. (We all do! Paid an electric bill lately??) I manage “curtailment” for the institution where I work. More formally, curtailment is called “demand side management”. When the grid is under strain (not enough electricity flowing where it is needed), my employer (and thousands of others) reduce load to get through the bad times, six hours maximum. The practice of utilities getting on the phone and begging customers to cut back is long obsolete. The ability and willingness to reduce (or curtail) is now a marketable commodity, and I manage it for my institution.

Enough about me! The Burning Wire is about sabotage. It starts with manipulation of the grid to produce an “arc flash” explosion, and gets crazier from there, with a smart, nasty bad guy taking lives and making threats. The lead detective is one Lincoln Rhyme, a quadriplegic genius with a devoted team of police and other agents who specialize in catching criminals who threaten public safety. The Burning Wire is one of a series of Lincoln Rhyme novels.

Deaver writes in a way that makes his characters extremely compelling. His descriptions are vivid, and when I was reading this book, I didn’t pay any attention to my immediate surroundings. Some of the plot twists took me entirely by surprise.

If you need a book to make time pass and keep you involved, read this! I am sure Deaver’s other books would also serve. I’m giving a selection of Lincoln Rhyme novels to a friend for Christmas.


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