About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

The Watchmaker’s Hand by Jeffery Deaver

(16. - 1199.) The Watchmaker’s Hand by Jeffery Deaver - The opening crackles. A tower crane operator perched  218 feet in the air is confronted with the front jib tilting forward. Unable to correct the tilt he shifts from electronics to manual controls but cannot stabilize the load of flanges. Desperately trying to move the load to fall in an open space he stays in the cab. The tilt is too much and the crane breaks apart.

Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are investigating  a theft from the NYC Department of Structures and Engineering - “a trove of infrastructure documents, blueprints, engineering diagrams, underground maps, plats, permit requests”.

Medical advancements and new technologies have allowed Rhyme “had restored most movement to his right arm”.

News arrives of the crane collapse and demands made to the city with the threat “if they don’t get what they want, they’re going to do it again in twenty-four hours”.

The Kommunalka demand the City of New York convert various city owned properties to public housing or have a “disaster” every day.

Charles Vespasian Hale, the Watchmaker, has come to New York to kill his nemesis - Rhyme. Loving the precision of clocks, especially watches, he is a dangerous adversary. He has created the Kommunalka.

I do not see many modern works of crime fiction with a brilliant villain challenging the brilliant sleuth. The modern day Moriarity is a worthy opponent for the Holmes of today. There will be no luck only skill involved.

Hale uses a powerful chemical, hydrofluoric acid, with which I am unfamiliar in my decades of crime fiction reading. It can kill with astonishing quickness.

Hale and Rhyme appreciate the elegance of watches and the “complications” (“any function of a watch or clock other than telling the time” including “dials indicating the phases of the moon, tides, seasons”) with which they are adorned. A watch with many features were called “ ‘grande complications’ “. 

Deaver drives the suspense. Hale stalks a couple who have seen too much and sets up a device to kill them in their home. On T.V. we know they would be rescued. With Deaver the tension is real for, in earlier books in the series, victims have been killed not saved.

The skill and dedication of young criminalist, Ron Pulaski, has achieved Rhyme’s admiration to the point that he Pulaski is listed as Rhyme’s successor.

A weakness of Hale is that he loves elegant complex killing schemes - plots that have grande complications. Not for Hale to simply shoot, knife or strangle. He wants people to admire his plans, appreciate his intelligence and be dismayed by his wicked plans.

Most important Hale’s killing modus is to have death caused throught a remote to programmed means of killing so that he is not in the vicinity of the murder. His approach has the weakness of a million books, movies and T.V. shows. The killer does not actually see whether the intended victim is dead.

The book hurtles forward. Most, not all, of Hale’s schemes are detected and thwarted. Can Rhyme and his team stop Hale’s ultimate plan and prevent him from escaping again?

The tension is so high and the reading compelling that clues were overlooked by me. Deaver drives the reader to read in haste to find out what happens upon the next page. Rhyme never seems rushed as he contemplates a villain’s plans.

A clock is constantly ticking down to disaster when the Watchmaker comes to town. Deaver’s plots are grande complications.

Deaver, Jeffery – (2000) - The Empty Chair; (2002) - The Stone Monkey; (2002) - Mistress of Justice; (2003) - The Vanished Man; (2005) - Garden of Beasts; (2005) - The Twelfth Card; (2006) - Cold Moon(Tied for 3rd Best fiction of 2006); (2008) - The Broken Window; (2010) - The Burning Wire; (2013) - The Kill Room; (2014) - The Skin Collector; (2017) - The Steel Kiss; (2019) - The Burial Hour; (2021) - The Never Game and Handwritten Notes Are the Best; (2023) - The Midnight Lock


  1. That's a really interesting demand, Bill, that public housing be created. It's an innovation on the traditional demands for money, political decisions, etc.. And it does ratchet up the tension when there's an even (or all but even) match between the protagonist and the antagonist. You're right that it's not often we see that kind of matching of wits. Your post also brings up another point: when the tension and characters are done well, it's easier to overlook the things that aren't quite top-notch.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Somehow though I know most events in Deaver books are not what they seem he catches me. Rhyme and Sachs are a great team.