More mobile, but still as irascible as ever, Rhyme is sought out by Assistant D.A., Nance Laurel, to assist in the investigation of the killing of an anti-American activist, Robert Moreno, in the Bahamas.
He has been killed by a sniper bullet that smashed the window of his hotel room. Two other men in the room bled to death from the shards of glass blown about the room as the powerful bullet shattered the window.
Ordinarily a murder in another country would not be the subject of a New York state prosecutor. Moreno’s death has been Laurel’s interest because of a whistleblower email that a secretive American intelligence agency, the National Intelligence and Operations Service (NIOS), using flawed information has killed Moreno. The State of New York is pursuing the killer because Moreno, despite his anti-American rants, was an American citizen. Nance has been assigned to build the case for a conspiracy to murder charge.
If she can establish the killing was outside the authority given to NIOS the State of New York will charge those responsible. Killing an American can cause prosecution. Killing a non-citizen is not an issue for a state court.
Deaver thus delves into the murky legal and moral right of America to kill those it considers its enemy wherever they are located in the world. It was timely reading the book as an American drone aircraft was reported to have killed two people in Yemen as I finished reading the book.
Where earlier books in the series were fascinating assemblies of forensic evidence to solve crimes The Kill Room examines an important current legal issue.
While the New York City police department and the District Attorney’s office seek to maintain secrecy through running the case out of Rhyme’s home NIOS almost instantly knows of the investigation.
Both the police/D.A. and NIOS use unauthorized datamining to find information. Deaver is touching upon another thorny American issue, the right of governments to spy upon their people without the checks of statute and public court consents. Deaver makes it clear that the security and proper use of vast American tapping of phone and other electronic communication is dependent on the integrity of those conducting the surveillance.
Rhyme is hampered as the crime scene is thousands of kilometers away and the Royal Bahamian Police are unenthusiastic about sharing information concerning a killing they consider the work of Venezuelan drug cartels.
In New York City Amelia Sachs is diligently aiding Rhyme though the effects of osteoarthritis are becoming more severe. She can no longer walk without pain.
As she starts to search out information concerning Moreno’s recent trip to New York City there is a chilling development. Someone is trying to remove all evidence and witnesses that might lead to the killer.
Can it be that a federal American agency is willing to kill American citizens so that its actions in protecting America’s security can be concealed?
Where the initial forensic evidence is limited it builds during the book to the extent, as usual in this series, that it is hard to analyze all of the facts. Deaver is among the world’s most gifted authors at giving the facts that will lead to conclusions but I rarely make the correct deductions from his facts.
Deaver does not take one-sided view on the extra-judicial killing by the United States government. It is among his most challenging books. Deaver a grandmaster of deception and layered plots. As common with his books there were unnecessary extra twists near the end. It is a mystery that compels the reader to think. (Aug. 10/13)