The Stone Monkey by Jeffery Deaver

The Stone Monkey by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover (available in mass-market), 424 pages, 2002

Rating: 7/10

Reason for Reading: I’ve been trying to restrain myself from racing through all of Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series, but couldn’t stop myself from reading The Stone Monkey, the fourth book (of five) in the series.

Synopsis: When a ship carrying illegal Chinese immigrants into America capsizes, criminalists Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs find themselves in a race to catch the notorious human smuggler whose elusive nature has earned him the nickname of the Ghost. At stake are the lives of the surviving immigrants, because there’s no way a driven criminal like the Ghost is going to leave behind any witnesses. With all of the Ghost’s underground crime connections it’s going to prove tough to find him, much less bring his killing spree to a halt.

Why you should read this book: Unlike many authors who write books in a series, Deaver isn’t afraid to shake things up a bit and take a risk in order to inject some fresh air into his books. He brings in a whole new concept to the forensics with having a water-logged crime scene, and confronts some of the cultural differences in the Chinese community that are holding back the police in their attempts to solve the case. As always, Deaver inserts enough twists and turns to make you sufficiently dizzy right up to the end of the story.

Why you should avoid this book: The suspense level is a bit of a disappointment when following the previous book in the series, The Empty Chair. While all of the lore about Chinese culture is interesting in its own right, it drags down the pace when Deaver pauses at inopportune moments for explanations when he should really be barreling ahead with the story to sustain the thrilling pace. The Stone Monkey is certainly not a terrible suspense novel, but Deaver’s done much better. Also, keep in mind that while Deaver writes to entertain, he’s certainly not out to win favours with any English teachers – the ‘write like people (supposedly) really talk’ concept can be cringe-inducing to read at times.

Opening paragraph:

They were the vanished, they were the unfortunate.
To the human smugglers – the snakeheads – who carted them around the world like pallets of damaged goods, they were ju-jia, piglets.

Fabulous quotes:

‘This is even more a case of the deaf and dumbs than usual.’
‘Yeah, most people here got the blinds too.’
‘We think they heard it was the Ghost who worked on Tang and that scared everybody off. Nobody’ll help. The most anybody’ll tell us is that two or-‘
-three or four-‘
‘-people, presumably men, kicked in the door to the warehouse there.’
‘And there was major screaming for ten minutes. Then two gunshots. Then it got quiet.’

He took a cell phone from his pocket and made a call. ‘I’m inside. The children are here.’
The man – dark and Arab-looking, probably from Western China – nodded as he listened, looking Chin-Mei up and down. Then he gave a sour sneer. ‘I don’t know, seventeen, eighteen…Pretty enough…All right.’
He disconnected the call.
‘First,’ he said in English, ‘some food.’ He seized her hair and dragged the sobbing girl into the kitchen. ‘What do you have to eat here?’
But all she could hear were those three words looping over and over through her mind.
First, some food…first, some food…
And then?
Wu Chin-Mei began to cry.

Also recommended: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown; The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen; The Treatment by Mo Hayder.

Also by this author: The Sleeping Doll; The Cold Moon; The Twelfth Card; Garden of Beasts; Twisted; The Bone Collector; The Blue Nowhere; The Vanished Man; Speaking in Tongues; The Empty Chair; The Devil’s Teardrop; The Coffin Dancer; A Maiden’s Grave; Praying for Sleep; The Lessons of her Death; Mistress of Justice; Hard News; Death of a Blue Movie Star; Manhattan Is My Beat; Hell’s Kitchen; Bloody River Blues; Shallow Graves.

Author’s website:

Fun tidbit: Deaver spends eight months researching each of his novels; by the end, he has a 100-to-200 page outline of the story to work from.

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

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