A music school student is murdered and the killer flees into a locked classroom with no way out. When the police break down the door, the killer has vanished. Criminalist Lincoln Rhyme and his partner Amelia Sachs are called in to investigate. It doesn’t take them long to figure out the police were duped by the killer, whom they name “the conjurer” due to his magical feats in escaping. The conjurer leads the police on a meandering investigation as he continues on his killing spree, leaving behind bits of evidence which they eventually learn are clues to deliberately misdirect them. Rhyme can’t help but be impressed by the conjurer’s skills at illusion and magic. With the aid of Kara, a student illusionist, Rhyme and Sachs attempt to catch their killer through their own planned misdirections.
Deaver writes an exceptional series with outstanding characters. Rhyme is a brilliant man frustrated with his physical disability who relies on Sachs’s skills at gathering evidence and investigating onsite. The two make for one powerful team, aided by detectives within the New York Police Department. Kara is an intriguing character, a young woman talented in magic who despairs over the mental health of her mother and sacrifices much for her welfare. As always, deeper, underlying layers of Rhyme’s and Sachs’s personas are subtly unveiled. Deaver leads the reader through a complicated mystery, filled with twists and turns, the final one which the reader won’t see coming.