By September 22, 2010 0 Comments Read More →

Reading the Screen: Jeffery Deaver

devils-teardropThe Devil’s Teardrop, Jeffery Deaver’s 1999 novel about a twisted — but exceedingly clever — killer who threatens to commit mayhem unless he’s paid twenty million bucks, has been made into a TV movie starring Tom Everett Scott as document analyst Parker Kincaid and Natasha Henstridge as FBI agent Margaret Lukas.

I haven’t seen the movie, but I have read the book, and it’s a real corker. It’s not one of Deaver’s better-known novels — probably because his popular series hero, Lincoln Rhyme, only has a cameo — but if you’re a fan, you ought to check it out.

Considering how he’s written a string of best-selling (and almost uniformly excellent) thrillers, it’s surprising there haven’t been a handful of movies based on Deaver’s books. But there are a couple.

Lincoln Rhyme takes center stage in The Bone Collector, the 1999bone-collector adaptation of Deaver’s 1997 novel. Denzel Washington plays Rhyme, the quadriplegic criminalist, and Angelina Jolie is Amelia, the model-turned-cop who teams up with Rhyme to solve a series of murders.

The novel is excellent – I disagree with the Booklist review — but the movie is flat and dull. If you’ve seen it, you really ought to read the book, so you can see what the story was meant to be like.

maidens-graveDeaver’s 1995 novel A Maiden’s Grave, about a trio of escaped convicts who abduct a busload of schoolchildren, was turned into the 1997 TV movie Dead Silence, with James Garner as FBI hostage negotiator John Potter (in the book he’s called Arthur). It’s a very good movie, too, with some excellent peformances and a script that nicely captures the essence of Deaver’s story.

Why aren’t there more movies based on Deaver’s books? I have a theory about that. His plotting is subtle and complex, and he relies heavily on the kind of unexpected right-angle turn that could give an unsuspecting reader whiplash.  His books almost defy adaptation: they’re almost too labyrinthine, too elaborately plotted, for a two-hour movie.

Now a miniseries, on the other hand….

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