The Cutting Edge


By Jeffery Deaver

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Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs return to New York City to investigate a triple murder and confront a killer terrorizing couples at their happiest–and most vulnerable in this explosive New York Times bestseller.

In the early hours of a quiet, weekend morning in Manhattan’s Diamond District, a brutal triple murder shocks the city. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs quickly take the case. Curiously, the killer has left behind a half-million dollars’ worth of gems at the murder scene, a jewelry store on 47th street. As more crimes follow, it becomes clear that the killer’s target is not gems, but engaged couples themselves.
The Promisor vows to take the lives of men and women during their most precious moments–midway through the purchase of an engagement ring, after a meeting with a wedding planner, trying on the perfect gown for a day that will never come. The Promisor arrives silently, armed with knife or gun, and a time of bliss is transformed, in an instant, to one of horror.
Soon the Promiser makes a dangerous mistake: leaving behind an innocent witness, Vimal Lahori, a talented young diamond cutter, who can help Rhyme and Sachs blow the lid off the case. They must track down Vimal before the killer can correct his fatal error. Then disaster strikes, threatening to tear apart the very fabric of the city–and providing the perfect cover for the killer to slip through the cracks.


I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.




Chapter 1

Is it safe?”

He considered this briefly. “Safe? Why wouldn’t it be safe?”

“I’m just saying. It’s kind of deserted.” The woman looked around the poorly lit, shabby lobby, the floor ancient linoleum so worn it looked sanded down. They were the only ones here, standing before the elevator. The building was smack in the middle of the Diamond District in Midtown Manhattan. Because it was Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, many stores and companies were closed. The March wind hissed and moaned.

William, her fiancé, said, “I think we’re good. Only partially haunted.”

She smiled but the expression vanished fast.

Deserted, yes, William thought. And gloomy. Typical of Midtown offices built in the, who knew? Thirties? Forties? But hardly unsafe.

Though not very efficient. Where was the elevator? Damn it.

William said, “Don’t worry. Not like the South Bronx.”

Anna chided gently, “You’ve never been to the South Bronx.”

“Went to a Yankees game.” He’d once commuted through the South Bronx, and for some years, too. But didn’t mention that.

From behind the thick metallic doors, gears ground and pulleys pulled. The soundtrack was creaks and squeals.

The elevator. Now, that might not be safe. But the odds of getting Anna to walk up three flights of stairs were nonexistent. His fiancée, broad-shouldered, blond and pert, was in great shape, thanks to the health club and her charming obsession with the devil-red Fitbit. It wasn’t the exertion she objected to, with that wonderful wry glance; it was, as she’d once said, that girls don’t do stairs in buildings like this.

Even on joyous errands.

Practicality raised its head—yet again. “Are you sure this is a good idea, Billy?”

He was prepared. “Of course it is.”

“It’s so expensive!”

True, it was. But William had done his homework and knew he was getting quality for the sixteen thousand dollars. The rock that Mr. Patel was mounting in the white-gold setting for Anna’s pretty finger was a one-point-five-carat princess cut, F, which meant virtually colorless, very close to the ideal D. The stone was graded nearly flawless—IF, meaning there were only some minor flaws (Mr. Patel had explained they were called “inclusions”) detectible only to an expert under magnification. It wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t huge but it was a magnificent piece of carbon that, through Mr. Patel’s eye loupe, took your breath away.

Most important, Anna loved it.

William came very close to saying, You only get married once. But, thank you, Lord, stopped short. Because while that was true in her case, it was not in his. Anna didn’t mind his past, or didn’t offer any evidence that she minded, but it was best not to bring up the topic (hence, editing out the story about the five years of commuting to Westchester).

Where the hell was that elevator?

William Sloane pressed the button again, though it was already illuminated. And they laughed at the pointless gesture.

Behind them the door to the street opened and a man walked in. At first he was just a shadow, backlit through the greasy glass of the door. William felt a moment’s unease.

Is this safe…?

Maybe he’d been a little quick with the reassurance some minutes before. He and Anna would be walking out in ten minutes with a house down payment on her finger. He looked around and was troubled to see there were no security cameras here.

But the man walked closer and offered a pleasant smile and nod, then returned to reading his texts. He had pale skin, wearing a dark jacket and knit stocking cap, carrying cloth gloves in his phone hand—all necessary accessories on this unusually frosty March day. An attaché case too. He worked in the building…or maybe was picking up a ring for his fiancée at Patel’s too. No threat. Still, William—a health-club and Fitbit aficionado himself—was in top form and could take down a guy of this size. A fantasy, he supposed, that every man engaged in from time to time.

Finally, the elevator arrived and the doors squealed open. They got in and the man gestured to the couple to enter first.

“Please.” An accented voice. William couldn’t place the nationality.

“Thank you,” Anna said.

A nod.

At the third floor, the door opened and the man again gestured with his palm. William nodded in response and he and Anna continued toward Patel Designs, at the end of the long, dim hallway.

Jatin Patel was an interesting man, an immigrant from Surat, western India, the diamond-polishing center of that country—and of the world, now. When the couple had been here some weeks ago, placing their order, Patel had chatted away, explaining that the vast bulk of gem-quality diamond polishing was done there, in boiler rooms—tiny factories like apartment buildings, hot and filthy, with terrible ventilation. Only the best diamonds were cut in New York or Antwerp or Israel anymore. Because of his skill, he’d risen above the pack of cutters—thousands of them in Surat—and managed to save enough money to come to the United States and open a shop.

He sold jewelry and diamonds retail—to the soon-to-be-Sloanes, for instance—but he was best known for his cutting of high-end diamonds from raw stones.

On that earlier visit William had been fascinated to learn about the diamond trade, fascinated too that Patel would, from time to time, grow coy and steer the conversation away from William’s innocent questions. He supposed the diamond world was a shadowy, secretive place in many ways. Look at blood diamonds—those mined in Africa by warlords and terrorists, who used the profits to finance their horrific crimes. (The princess cut William was buying came with a guarantee that it had been ethically mined. William, though, couldn’t help but wonder how true that was. After all, was the broccoli he’d steamed last night truly organic, as the placard at their local store promised?)

He was aware that the man who’d accompanied them in the elevator had stopped at a door just before Patel’s and was hitting the intercom.

So he was legit.

William chided himself for his concern and pressed the button for Patel Designs. Through the speaker came: “Yes? Who is there? Mr. Sloane?”

“Yes, it’s us.”

There was a click of the door and they stepped in.

It was at that moment that a thought struck William Sloane. As in many old-time buildings, the doors to all of the businesses on this floor had transoms above them—horizontal glass panels. Here they were covered with thick bars, for security. The one above Patel’s door glowed, revealing lights inside. But the transom next door—the one the man from the elevator had stopped at—was dark.

That business was closed.


A sudden rush of footsteps behind them and, gasping, William turned to see the man, now with his head covered by a ski mask, charge toward them. He shoved them into the small room, where Patel sat behind a counter. The intruder moved so fast that Anna was knocked off her feet and fell hard, screaming. William turned but froze as the man pointed a gun his way—a black pistol.

“Jesus, no! Please!”

Despite his age, and paunchy midsection, Jatin Patel rose fast, going for what must have been a panic button. He didn’t get close. The man lunged forward and, reaching over the counter, slammed the pistol into his face. There was a horrific sound. William heard the snap of bone under the impact.

The diamond dealer screamed. Patel, whose complexion was grayish all the time, grew grayer yet.

“Look,” William said, “I can get you money. You can have our ring.”

“Take it!” Anna said. Then to Patel: “Give it to him. Give him whatever he wants.”

Drawing back his gloved hand, still holding the gun, he swung it forward into Patel’s face again and again. Crying out, begging for him to stop, Patel slumped helpless to the floor, muttering, “I can get you money! Lots of money! Whatever you want! Please, please stop.”

“Leave him alone,” Anna cried.

“Quiet!” The man was looking around the room. A fast glance to the ceiling. There was a video camera pointing down toward them. Then he was studying the counter, the desk behind it and several dim rooms in the back.

With one hand toward the gunman, palm out, to reassure that he was no threat, William stepped closer to Anna. His arm went around his fiancée’s waist and he helped her up. He could feel her trembling.

The robber ripped a light cord from the wall. He extracted a box cutter—a utility knife—from his pocket and pressed the razor blade out with his thumb. Setting down the gun, he cut the wire into two lengthy pieces. He handed one to Anna. “Tie his hands.” Nodding at William. That accent again. European? Scandinavian?

“Do it,” William told her gently. “It’s okay.” He added in a whisper, “He could have shot us. He doesn’t want that. Tie my wrists.”


“Yes, she will.”

With shaking hands, she did.

“Lie down.”

William eased to the floor.

Of course, he’d get the main threat out of the way—him. Then, glancing at Patel, the burglar bound Anna’s wrists and shoved her to the floor beside William, back to back.

A chilling thought, cold as a winter stream, cut through him. William realized that the intruder had put the mask on before going into the store, to hide his face from the cameras.

But he hadn’t worn it before. Because he needed some customers to get him through the door of Patel’s. He’d probably been waiting for a couple to follow to a company that seemed like a good target for a robbery.

The security camera in Patel’s would have no recording of his features.

But William and Anna could describe him.

And that meant only one thing: The robber had tied them up so they wouldn’t fight back when he killed them.

The man now stepped close, standing over them, looking down.

“Look, please…”


William prayed, If it has to happen, let him shoot us. It’ll be fast, painless. He managed a look, twisting his head hard upward. And saw that the man had left the gun on the counter.

The gunman crouched over them, gripping the knife.

William’s back was still facing Anna’s and, sobbing, he stretched his hand out as far as he could. It found hers. He wondered if it was her left one and if the finger he was caressing now was the one that had come so close to being graced by the princess-cut, one-point-five-carat diamond, only slightly flawed and nearly colorless.

Chapter 2

This was his life.

Today was typical. Up at six, a Saturday, can you believe it? Help his mother empty all the pantry and kitchen shelves, for cleaning and laying new contact paper. Then wash the car—on this damp, grim day! Hugging his mother and father goodbye, then taking the train from their home in Queens all the way to Brooklyn, on an errand for Mr. Patel.

Yet another train to Manhattan, to start polishing the stones that awaited him. He was on board now, as it swayed its way north.

Saturday. When everyone else was at brunch or plays or movies…or museums.

Or galleries.

How unfair was this?

Oh, forget entertainment. Vimal Lahori would be fine—in fact, he’d prefer to be—in the damp basement of the family’s house in Queens.

But that was not an option.

He pulled his dark-gray wool jacket around him more tightly as he swayed with the gentle motion of the subway. The twenty-two-year-old was thin and not tall. He’d reached his present height of five feet, six inches in grade school and had had about two years’ edge over his boy classmates, until others pulled even or eclipsed him. Still, the ethnic bent of his high school, with names more Latino and East or South Asian than black or Anglo, meant he wasn’t as diminutive as many. Which wasn’t to say that he didn’t get bloodied occasionally—though the engine for the most severe torment was that his family had immigrated from Kashmir, the region claimed by the bordering rivals, India and Pakistan. Vimal was, he believed, the only boy to have been beaten up for a border dispute (ironically by two gangly seniors whose religions—one Muslim and one Hindu—should have made them sworn enemies).

The wounds were minor, though, and the conflict soon forgotten, largely because Vimal was hardly a Kashmirista (he wasn’t even sure where the borders of his ancestral homeland lay). More important, he could move down the soccer pitch the way a honey bee zips from petal to petal; ball control will trump geopolitics any day.

The train approached the stop at 42nd Street. The wheels shrieked and the smoky, salt odor eased into the car. Vimal unfurled and looked into the paper bag he carried. It contained a half-dozen rocks. He removed one, a piece about the size of his fist. It was gray and dark green, striated with crystals. One end was cracked flat and the other rounded. Every piece of stone on earth, big or small, could be turned into something else and, with some thought and patience, the artist could see what it should become. But this one was obvious: a bird, Vimal saw instantly, a bird that was pressing wings to body and keeping its head low to ward off the cold. He could rough out the creature in a day.

But today was not that day.

Today was for work. Mr. Patel was a very talented man. A genius, many people said, and Vimal knew it was true. And probably because of his brilliance Mr. Patel was also a taskmaster. Vimal had the Abington job to finish. Four pieces of stone, three carats each, more or less. He knew it would take a full eight hours, and the old man—he was fifty-five—would spend agonizing periods of that time examining Vimal’s efforts under the glass. Then have him make adjustments. And more after that.

And more and more and more…

The doors of the subway opened and Vimal replaced into the paper bag the Solitary Bird, January—his name for the sculpture that would never be. He stepped onto the platform and climbed to the street. At least it was Saturday and, with many of the Orthodox stores closed, the Diamond District would be more serene than on weekdays, especially with this nasty March weather. The bustling of the neighborhood sometimes drove him crazy.

Instinctively, the minute he turned onto 47th Street Vimal grew cautious—as did pretty much every one of the hundreds of employees here, a place where many owners were reluctant to advertise too loudly. Yes, there were plenty of “Jewelers” and “Diamonds” and “Gems” in the shop and company names but the higher-end operations and the few important diamond cutters left in the city tended to call themselves by names like “Elijah Findings,” “West Side Collateral” and “Specialties In Style.”

Hundreds of millions’ worth of diamonds and gems flowed into and out of these stores and cutting shops every day of the year. And there wasn’t a halfway competent burglar or robber in the world who wasn’t aware of that fact. And they also knew that the number one way to transport precious gems and gold and platinum and finished jewelry wasn’t via armored trucks (too many shipments in and out daily to make a whole truck cost-efficient) or in aluminum attaché cases handcuffed to wrists (far too easy to spot and, as any doctor would tell you, hands can be severed with a hacksaw in less than sixty seconds, even faster if you go electric).

No, the best way to transport valuables was to do just what Vimal was doing now. Dressing down—in jeans, running shoes, a Keep Weird and Carry On sweatshirt and wool jacket, while carting a stained paper bag.

So, as Vimal’s father—a former cutter himself—insisted, the young man kept his eyes scanning constantly for anyone who might glance a certain way at the bag in his hand or might be moving close while overtly not looking.

Still, he wasn’t too concerned; even on less-busy days like this there were guards present, seemingly unarmed but with those little revolvers or automatics tucked into sweaty waistbands. He nodded at one now, as she stood in front of a jewelry store, an African American woman with short purple hair of crinkly texture that Vimal marveled at; he had no idea how she’d managed it. Coming from an ethnic background that offered pretty much one-size-fits-all hair (black, thick and wavy or straight), he was greatly impressed by her do. He wondered how he might render it in stone.

“Hey, Es,” he called, nodding.

“Vimal. Saturday. Boss don’t give you no time off? That sucks.”

He shrugged, offering a rueful smile.

She glanced at the bag, which for all she knew held a half-dozen Harry Winston–branded stones worth ten million.

He was tempted to say, It’s just peanut butter and jelly. She’d probably laugh. But the idea of making a joke on 47th Street seemed alien. There wasn’t a lot of humor in the Diamond District. Something about the value—and, probably more so, the narcotic quality—of diamonds made this an all-too-serious business.

He now entered Mr. Patel’s building. He never waited for Insufferable Elevator—a fantastical artifact out of Harry Potter, he’d told Adeela, which she’d laughed at—but charged up the stairs, his lithe frame unaffected by gravity, his legs strong and lungs vital from the soccer pitch.

Pushing into the hallway, he noted four of the eight overheads were still dark. He wondered, as he often did, why Mr. Patel, who had to have a shitload of money, didn’t find a glitzy office elsewhere. Maybe it was sentimental. He had had his shop here for thirty years, when this entire floor was cutters. Now his was one of the few fabricators left in the building. Cold on days like this, hot and dusty from June to September. Smelling dank. Mr. Patel didn’t have a showroom as such and the “factory” was really just a workshop, the smaller of the three rooms. Given his low-output high-quality work, all he needed was a place big enough for two diamond-polishing scaifes and two cutting machines. He could relocate anywhere.

But Mr. Patel had never shared with Vimal his reasoning for staying, because he never shared anything with Vimal, except how to hold the dop stick, how to mount the stones for bruting, how much diamond dust to mix with olive oil for brillianteering.

Halfway to the office, Vimal paused. What was that smell? Fresh paint. The walls on this floor definitely needed a new coat, had for years, but he couldn’t see evidence that any workers had been fixing up the place.

During the week it was hard enough to get maintenance to do anything. Somebody had actually come in on Friday night or Saturday to paint?

He continued toward the door. The offices here had glass transoms, though they were covered with bars, of course, and he could see shadows of somebody inside Mr. Patel’s shop. Maybe they were the buyers, the couple who’d come to him for a special engagement ring. William Sloane and Anne Markam—he remembered their names because they’d seemed so nice, actually introducing themselves to Vimal—the hired hand—as he’d left the shop on their last visit. Nice, but naïve: If they’d invested the money they’d spent on their carat-and-a-half diamond, that sum would have grown into a college education for their firstborn. Seduced by the diamond-marketing cabal, as he thought of them.

If Vimal and Adeela ever got married—a conversation that hadn’t come up yet, nowhere close—but if they did, he’d buy her a hand-carved rocking chair for their engagement. He’d sculpt her something. And if she wanted a ring he’d make something out of lapis, with the head of a fox on it, which was, for some reason, her favorite animal.

He punched in the code for the security lock.

Vimal stepped inside and stopped in mid-stride, gasping.

Three things took his attention immediately. First, the bodies of a man and woman—William and Anna—in a twisted and eerie pose, as if they’d died in agony.

The second was a lake of blood extending outward.

The third was Mr. Patel’s feet. Vimal couldn’t see the rest of the body, just his well-worn shoes, pointing upward. Motionless.

From the workshop, to the left of the front room, a figure appeared. A ski mask obscured his face but his body language explained that he was startled.

Neither Vimal nor the man moved.

Then the intruder dropped the briefcase he was holding and pulled a gun from his pocket and aimed. Vimal instinctively spun away, as if he could avoid the bullet, and lifted his hands, as if he could stop it.

A burst of light flowered from the muzzle and the roar deafened Vimal. A searing pain stabbed his belly and side.

He stumbled backward into the dim, dusty corridor, his mind filled with a manic thought: What a sad and ordinary place to die.

Chapter 3

He had not returned to the city in time.

To his disappointment.

Lincoln Rhyme directed his Merits Vision wheelchair—gray with red fenders—through the front door of his Central Park West town house. Someone had once remarked that the place brought to mind Sherlock Holmes—in two senses: First, the ancient brownstone would have fit nicely in Victorian England (it dated to that era), and second, the front parlor was filled with enough forensic instruments and equipment to awe the British consulting detective to his core.

Rhyme paused in the entryway to wait for Thom, his trim, muscular caregiver, who’d parked the disabled-accessible Mercedes Sprinter in the cul-de-sac behind the town house. Feeling the cold breeze upon his cheek, Rhyme turned the chair and bumped the door partly closed. It blew back open. A quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down, he was quite adept at the high-tech accessories available to those with hampered bodies: the touchpads, eye and voice recognition systems, prosthetics and the like. And surgery and implants had given him some control over his right arm. But many old-fashioned mechanical tasks, from closing doors to—oh, picking a random example—opening bottles of single-malt scotch, remained, literally, out of reach.

Thom arrived a moment later and closed the door. He removed Rhyme’s jacket—he refused to “wear” a blanket for warmth—and peeled off to the kitchen.



The aide called back, “Phrased that wrong. I meant, what would you like?”


“Not the correct answer.”

“I’m not hungry,” Rhyme muttered. He clumsily picked up the remote for the TV. And turned on the news.

Thom called, “You need to eat. Soup. Cold day. Soup.”

Rhyme grimaced. His condition was serious, yes, and certain things like pressure on the skin or unrelieved bodily functions could have dangerous consequences. But hunger was not a potential risk factor.

The aide was such a goddamn mother hen.

After a few moments Rhyme smelled something aromatic. Thom did make pretty good soup.

He turned his attention to the television, which he rarely watched. Usually, it was to follow a particular news story, which was what he now wished to do: a story related to the disappointment created by his trip to Washington, DC, the place from which he and Amelia Sachs had just returned.

The station that had crinkled onto the screen wasn’t twenty-four-hour news but a documentary network. Airing presently was a true crime show, though dramatized. The villain glared. The detectives looked thoughtful. The music flared. The forensic officer wore a wristwatch outside his glove at the scene.

Jesus Christ.

“Were you watching this crap?” he shouted to Thom.


  • "Deaver's approach excels in THE CUTTING EDGE, the 14th novel to feature Lincoln and his assistant, Amelia Sachs... Deaver keeps the level of suspense high as he also examines the gem trade and takes readers on an insider's tour of New York City. Deaver's intelligent characters show their mettle as the twists mount."—Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
  • "Stellar... The tension rises [and] Deaver keeps the twists and surprises coming in this roller-coaster ride of a thriller."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • "Deaver is at his graciously cruel best in THE CUTTING EDGE. [His] singular flair for ghastly irony is on full display. Sympathetic characters... Deaver seduces us."—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
  • "Incredible...Deaver delivers another explosive book in the series...Deaver is a master...It will be no surprise to see THE CUTTING EDGE appear on many lists for being the best book of the year."—Suspense Magazine
  • "Huge twists ... classic Deaver... gripping and terrific."—Jeff Ayers, Associated Press
  • "The tale is replete with Deaver's trademark twists and turns."—Daily Mail (UK)
  • "Deaver brings it all together and after drawing in the readers, delivers twist after twist, never letting up until the final chapter. Even then, he gives you a smack in the mouth. It is really top-drawer writing."—Shots Magazine
  • "The nerve-jangling resolution of Deaver's latest chiller is as sparkling as any of the gems at the centre of The Cutting Edge, but he also manages in the final couple of pages to deliver one of the most vertiginous cliff-hangers any fan of the Lincoln Rhyme stories could ever wish for."—The Independent (Dublin)
  • "Huge twists ... classic Deaver... gripping and terrific."—p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}Jeff Ayers, Associated Press

On Sale
Apr 10, 2018
Page Count
448 pages

Jeffery Deaver

About the Author

Jeffery Deaver is the #1 international bestselling author of over thirty novels and three collections of short stories. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into 25 languages. His first novel featuring Lincoln Rhyme, The Bone Collector, was made into a major motion picture starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. He’s received or been shortlisted for a number of awards around the world. He lives in North Carolina.

Learn more about this author