The Bone Collector (novel)

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The Bone Collector
The bone collector - bookcover.jpg
Hardcover edition
Author Jeffery Deaver
Country US
Language English
Series Lincoln Rhyme
Genre Crime Fiction
Published 1997 Viking Press
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 461 (Paperback)
ISBN 978-0-340-99272-2
Followed by The Coffin Dancer

The Bone Collector is a 1997 novel by Jeffery Deaver. The book introduces the character of Lincoln Rhyme, a quadriplegic forensic criminalist.

It was adapted into a film of the same name in 1999.


The novel begins with two colleagues catching a cab at a New York City airport. Unfortunately for T.J. (Tammie Jean) Colfax and John Ulbrecht, they unknowingly climb into the Bone Collector's cab. After a brief ride through New York, they find themselves in an abandoned warehouse district.

The next day NYPD Patrol Officer Amelia Sachs is called to a possible homicide near some train tracks in Midtown. Her initial search doesn't bring anything up until she spots what she thinks is a dead tree protruding from the ground near the rail tracks. She climbs down the embankment instead of using the ladder so she doesn't mess up any evidence that could be on the ladder. As she gets closer to the "dead tree," she realises that it is actually a hand sticking out of the ground, with all the flesh removed and a large diamond ring placed on one bony finger. She digs down in the earth and uncovers the face of John Ulbrecht, who has been buried alive.

Amelia calls in the find and begins to secure the area by stopping a train passing through and stopping the traffic up above.

Quadriplegic and ex-forensic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme is waiting for a visitor at his apartment, when the doorbell rings. When his caregiver Thom comes into his room, he tells Rhyme that he has two unexpected visitors in the form of homicide detectives Lon Sellitto and Jerry Banks. Rhyme tells his aide that he doesn't want to see them but gets talked around to giving them a bit of his time.

It turns out that Sellitto is Rhyme's ex-partner and that they worked well together. Sellitto and Banks are there to get Rhyme's help on the kidnapping and murder case, but he is unwilling to help them, as he says he is in no fit state to help. When Sellitto says that all he wants is for Rhyme to look over the case file and give them insight into what it all means, Rhyme finds himself drawn into reading it. The detective explains to Rhyme that the kidnapper still has one hostage and they need to find her, but at this point Rhyme's expected visitor arrives and he asks the detectives to leave, lying to them and saying that he will read over the case notes.

Of course, he gets drawn into the case and with the help of Amelia Sachs as his 'on-site' observer proceeds to solve it.

The Bone Collector[edit]

The Bone Collector's identity is that of Peter Taylor, Lincoln's doctor. Real name Colin Stanton, he had lost his family years previously when Lincoln had failed to fully check out a crime scene. The suspect was hiding under the bed, and proceeded to start a shoot out in the streets, and ended up gunning down Stanton's family. Stanton had a breakdown and was admitted to a hospital, where he attempted suicide. Once released, he planned to murder a now quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme, and created the identity of Peter Taylor. The name was inspired by a New York Serial Killer from the early 1900s called James Schneider, his surname being 'Tailor' in German. However, when Stanon realized that Lincoln was suicidal, he had to give him a reason to live. Using inspiration of James Schneider, he took on Schneider's alias of the 'Bone Collector' and began copying his crimes. Stanton picked his victims at random, and would also think of them as Schneider's own.

At the climax, Stanton confronts Lincoln and reveals his true identity. He then reveals his plans to murder people that Lincoln ever cared about in front of him, and would then slowly kill him. Lincoln manages to bite into Stanton's neck tearing at an artery, and the man bleeds to death.


Lincoln Rhyme- is a quadriplegic forensic criminalist, who was the head of IRD (the NYPD's Central Investigation and Resource Division) before he was involved in an accident at a crime scene in a subway station, where an oak beam fell on him crushing his C4 vertebrae and leaving him only able to move from his shoulders up and his left ring finger. At the start of the novel Lincoln is considering suicide with the help of Dr. William Berger, representative of a pro-euthanasia group called the Lethe Society, until his ex-partner Lon Sellitto arrives at his apartment asking for help on a kidnapping case.

Amelia Sachs – is a 31-year-old police officer who is about to be transferred out of patrol. However, on the morning of her transfer she is called to a possible homicide where she finds the first victim of the bone collector. Her work at this crime scene catches the attention of Lincoln Rhyme and she reluctantly becomes his "legs and eyes" as he takes on the case of the Bone Collector.

Lon Sellitto – is a homicide detective working for the NYPD, who has been assigned the kidnapping case from the airport. He is a twenty-year veteran and the ex-partner of Lincoln Rhyme. He has also been given the unenviable task of persuading Rhyme to work on the case.

Thom Reston – is Lincoln Rhyme's full-time care assistant.


Following the success of this novel, Deaver continued to feature Rhyme and Sachs in a series of subsequent novels. The series to date comprises: