Manhattan is My Beat was written early in Jeffrey Deaver’s career in 1988 and then revised in 2000. Two other works he wrote in 1988 have not been re-released and are difficult to find. He was thirty-eight when these were written. Before that he worked as a corporate (not criminal) attorney.
Best known for his serious Lincoln Rhyme books about a quadriplegic detective, this book pays homage to old movies and young fanciful thinking. His main character, twenty something Rune, sees life as magic and fairy tales and has a real passion for old movies. When she goes to retrieve a rented movie from an elderly man she has grown fond of, she finds him dead. She is convinced that the reason he has rented Manhattan Is My Beat so often is because it holds a clue to the whereabouts of the missing money. The money disappeared in the real-life bank robbery upon which the film is based.
Her naiveté is charming and gives her the courage to pursue Mr. Kelley’s death, when it appears that the police, and her more reality-based boyfriend, are not interested. It becomes a quest until the bad guys catch up with her. This is a fun romp that shows Deaver’s early suspense-building talent. As he himself says, the plot can be wonderfully suspenseful, but if you don’t care for the characters, it is not a well-written story. Rune is an engaging character, who is forced to grow up a bit in this adventure. There are two more Rune books in the trilogy, including Death of a Blue Movie Star and Hard News.
I haven’t begun the series that introduces Kathryn Dance, a body-language expert, but I look forward to reviewing them in the future. Deaver plans on doing alternating books between the Dance and Lincoln Rhyme characters in the coming years, and he has recently completed the book that will be the basis of the next James Bond film, Carte Blanche.