The Bone Collector (novel)

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The Bone Collector
The bone collector - bookcover.jpg
Hardcover edition
AuthorJeffery Deaver
SeriesLincoln Rhyme
GenreCrime Fiction
Published1997 Viking Press
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages461 (Paperback)
Followed byThe 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 is fruitless until she spots what she thinks is a dead tree protruding from the ground near the tracks. She climbs down the embankment and as she gets closer to the "dead tree," she sees 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. His caregiver Thom answers the door and informs him that he actually has two unexpected visitors, homicide detectives Lon Sellitto and Jerry Banks. Rhyme tells his aide that he doesn't want to see them but ultimately agrees to speak with them.

Sellitto, being Rhyme's former partner, and Banks are there to get Rhyme's help on the kidnapping and murder case but he is unwilling, as he says he is in no 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, telling them he will read over the case notes.

He finds himself drawn into the case, with the help of Amelia Sachs as his eyes on the ground.

The Bone Collector's identity is that of Peter Taylor, Rhyme's doctor. Real name Colin Stanton, he lost his family years previously when Lincoln failed to fully check out a crime scene. The suspect was hiding under a bed and started a shootout in the street, gunning down Stanton's family. Stanton subsequently 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 Stanton/Taylor realized that Lincoln was becoming suicidal he had to give him a reason to live so that he himself could murder him. He took on Schneider's alias, 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 coaxes his way into Rhyme's apartment. He then reveals his true identity to Rhyme, and his plan to murder all the people he cares about and then slowly kill him. Following a struggle, Rhyme manages to bite into Stanton's neck, tearing into an artery and mortally wounding him.


Lincoln Rhyme- Quadriplegic forensic criminalist who was the head of IRD (the NYPD's Central Investigation and Resource Division) before being involved in an accident at a crime scene 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, a 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 – 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 – 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 - 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: