Jeffery Deaver talks about THE BURIAL HOUR

THE BURIAL HOUR by Jeffery Deaver incorporates his usual writing style with misdirection and plot twists. The subject matter is timely and relevant, taking into account the many concerns of the Western world.

Although the plot begins in New York the main setting is in Italy, where the classics play an important role, intertwining Greek G-ds with legendary musical compositions of “The Blue Danube,” “The Nutcracker,” and “Danse Macabre.” The plot begins with the abduction of a business executive in Manhattan by someone known as “The Composer.” Left behind at the scene is a small hangman’s noose. Lincoln Rhymes, the notable Forensics investigator and his fiancé police detective Amelia Sachs get word that a similar kidnapping occurred in Naples, Italy. They decide to fly there and join forces with the Italian investigating team led by prosecutor Dante Spiro and a legal liaison in the State Department. As the dots get connected it appears all the victims are refugees. The team must battle their worst enemy, time, trying to find “The Composer” before he succeeds in killing one of the people snatched, apparently for no better reason than to record the sounds they make as they are choked to death.

Elise Cooper: Why Italy?

Jeffrey Deaver: Two years ago I had the odd experience of going on Medicare of sorts, receiving three Lifetime Achievement Awards. The message seemed to be Jeffrey you can now retire. One was The Raymond Chandler Award given out by the Italian Festival Directors. During the acceptance speech I decided to set a story in Italy. This was the genesis of the setting for the book.

EC: The idea for the story?

JD: When I went to Italy I saw parallels with the immigration issues in this country. Since I always like to give my books some social depth I decided to write about an apparent serial killer who targets refugees, and are those refugees possibly terrorists.

EC: Sound is almost like a character in this plot?

JD: The bad guy, Stefan, is obsessed with sound. I enjoy writing an eerie depth to my villains so they have substance. Stefan ponders how music speaks to someone including what history would have sounded like, the words of Judas or Abraham Lincoln. I think as a society we are not as attuned to sound as we used to be because of the overload. Robert Frost once said that ‘you can induce meaning from sound, independent of words.’

EC: Music also plays an important role?

JD: I have a music background, a guitarist. I wanted to show the emotional sides of sound in this book. Stefan is moved by the combination of notes and timing. There is something about the ¾ tempo of a waltz I find pretty engrossing, which is why I used those musical classics. In fact, the book title in Italy is The Hangman’s Waltz. I wonder if the Italians used that title to downplay the immigration issue since Italy is hit very hard with the refugee problem. Also, lets not forget Stefan has a muse, the Greek G-d of music.


EC: Since Lincoln is a
quadriplegic did you hesitate to have him travel to Italy?

JD: No, I did not see it as a problem. Even in New York he sits in a room while Amelia does most of the legwork. It also gave me an opportunity for the door to open for Lincoln where he can go in another direction. I anticipate he would take his formidable skills in an entirely new and unexpected direction. But, I do listen to what my fans say so we will see if Lincoln will move around a bit.

Deaver at Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter

EC: Since it mainly takes place in Italy did you try to incorporate that culture?

JD: Yes. Italy cannot escape the classics. Also, this story had to move more slowly because life in Southern Italy does move slowly. The story is tied to the Italian law enforcement system that is more leisurely and takes a holistic approach to justice. To make the plot move faster I had to extract elements of crimes. It was a bit of a challenge.

EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book projects?

JD: In three or four months a short story will be out about the wedding between Lincoln and Amelia, but of course they become involved with a serious crime. Next year there will be another Lincoln book, which is more of a police procedural. In 2019 there will be a Kathryn Dance novel. I seem to be marrying off all my main characters because she is also married. These books are more character driven and psychological as opposed to the Lincoln books that are more plot driven and procedural. This is why she will be in a verbal chess match with the villain and law enforcement.

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