The Skin Collector – Jeffery Deaver


“A new type of serial killer is stalking the streets of New York – one more devious and disturbing than ever before.

They call this butcher The Skin Collector: a tattooist with a chamber of torture hidden deep underground. But instead of using ink to create each masterpiece, the artist uses a lethal poison which will render targets dead before they can even entertain the prospect of escape…”

This book is the 11th instalment in the Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs series and one of the best I have read.  Lincoln Rhyme is the quadriplegic criminal investigator who had his first outing in the smash hit The Bone Collector, and this book is a follow up of that story.  A young pretty girl who works in a little clothing boutique is found dead in a tunnel under New York city, having gone down to the basement of the boutique to collect more stock and not returning.  Her hands have been handcuffed behind her back, and her clothes pulled up to reveal “The Second” freshly tattooed on her stomach.  This is no ordinary tattoo though, instead of ink the artist has used poison.  On the scene investigators are at a loss and call in the expertise of Rhyme and Sachs to become consultants on the case.  There is no one in the New York area better equipped to catch this twisted murderer than these two when it comes to knowledge, experience and technology.  Can they catch the insidious killer dubbed “The Skin Collector” before he finishes his masterplan?

Billy Haven is a loner, a talented tattoo artist with a special penchant for skin, but more than this he is a meticulous killer with the deadliest of poison as his chosen tattoo ink.  Billy is looking for his “Lovely Girl” who was taken away from him to soon.  Is he killing these women in the image of his “Lovely Girl” or is there something far more complex afoot?

This story had me utterly gripped from the beginning, and in true Deaver style he had thoroughly researched all subjects and issues touched upon in the book.  If you are a fan of Deaver you will be familiar with the predictably unpredictable plot and attention to detail that gives all his work a winning formula, and this was no different.  Plot twists, yes there were many, keeping the reader guessing right to the end. The storyline changed direction at least three times, and every time I thought the story was over another layer was peeled off to reveal something even more surprising underneath.

I loved this book.  I like reading something that challenges me, and this book certainly did.  The detail Deaver has went into on tattooing and body modification is immense, alongside his usual insights into history and forensic science meaning this book is not suitable for someone who is looking for an easy read.  If you don’t like too many facts being mixed in with fiction then this book is not for you, but for me it was perfection.

5 stars.




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