Well I honestly don't know what to say about this book besides it was a step up from the mess that was book #3. I think I am annoyed though that none of that is brought up at all while reading this book. And there's a stupid tease of something involving Amelia the entire book that may have readers thinking she is looking to get away from Rhymes. Instead it's a tired misdirect that I was just rolling my eyes at. And we get the final reveal by Rhymes to what the bad guy was really doing and man oh man I just needed him to start talking about his little grey cells to make me hate him a bit more (seriously he and Poirot could out-talk each other). I love that Deaver got back to forensics more in this one. However, the characters didn't feel real to me at all, and he left some loose threads with some of them (one of the characters was a teenager and a jerk) and I am just going to assume he's eventually going to come to a bad end.
Rhymes and Sachs are asked to help by both the FBI and INS in tracking down a cargo ship containing about 12 illegal Chinese. The FBI and INS are interested in arresting the human trafficker called "The Ghost" since he is responsible for a lot of deaths in China. However, something goes wrong and somehow The Ghost finds out that he is being tracked, he blows up the ship and attempts to kill everyone on board. When some of the passengers escape, Rhymes, Sachs, and company do their best to track down the witnesses/illegals before "The Ghost" finds them.
Sachs worked my nerves this one. She is apparently always going to be gullible as hell. I don't see her as tough or anything else just because she can shoot and sometimes her eyes get steely. Also Deaver turning her into a Clarice Starling stand-in with her walking the grid of a scene and imagining herself as the perp is just dumb. I hope that doesn't continue for other books in the series.
The things I liked about these books was the character of Lincoln sciencing (that's not a word, don't care) the crap out of scenes and pulling random facts out of the air while explaining them. There is some of that here and there, but way too few and far between. This book seemed to be Deaver teasing that Rhymes and Sachs are headed for a breakup of their partnership because she still doesn't want him to get an experimental procedure that may improve his motor function or kill him.
Rhymes I liked a lot better in this book. I think his friendship with one of the Chinese policeman, Li, was well done. They both got the other one and unlike with most people, Rhymes actually listened to what Li was saying.
The book switches narratives between Sachs (way too much), Rhymes, Li, the Chinese illegals, and The Ghost. I wish honestly he would have just stuck with third person for Rhyme and Sachs. It was too much having so many voices fighting to be heard. Also the fact that Deaver chose to have every Chinese person except The Ghost "speaking" in broken English was a bit too much. I feel like there was a lot of Chinese culture thrown into this book, but I can't tell if it is all accurate or not. I have Chinese American friends and I don't think they sit around talking about fung shei, herbs, etc. with other people, it was just weird.
The flow was off until almost the end of the book. Getting to the end was a slow plod though. This book was 576 pages and at least 200 pages could have been cut from this thing.
The setting of New York unfortunately doesn't feel well utilized here, specifically Chinatown. Based on this, Chinatown is just a place to buy Chinese herbs, gamble, hire people to shoot other people, and illegals. There's a Chinatown in Washington D.C. and there's a ton of people walking around, restaurants, gyms, Starbucks, etc. Maybe the Chinatown in New York in 2002 looks like this, I don't know.
Also since this book came out after 9/11 I am surprised by the ending to this story. It makes absolutely no sense. But maybe Deaver is not going to include real life events in his series. I thought the ending was hilarious since we have Rhyme revealing all like a magician. I called foul though since none of what was revealed was even a little bit plausible as a reader. It felt like it got pulled out of thin air.
Still this was better than The Empty Chair.