Deaver (A Maiden's Grave) is too fond of gimmicks. They range in this novel from the extreme (his detective here, Lincoln Rhyme, is a quadriplegic who can move only one finger) to the moderately eccentric (beautiful policewoman Amelia Sachs, who acts as Rhyme's arms and legs, suffers from arthritis). And his villain, a serial killer who models his crimes on ones he finds in a book on criminal life in old New York, has an uncomfortable way of slaying each of his victims in ways guaranteed to stop the heart or turn the stomach: buried alive, flayed by high-pressure steam, eaten by hungry rats, burned alive, attacked by mad dogs. All this takes place in the course of one busy New York weekend as the killer helpfully leaves playful little clues as to where he's going to strike next and Rhyme uses his immense savvy (and a battery of computerized testing tools) to figure it out. The whole affair, in fact, is incredibly silly, though the headlong narrative, with Sachs arriving in the nick of time (driving at 80 mph through New York streets) to perform rescues that seem to belong in a comic strip rather than a novel, never lets up, and there is plenty of genuine forensic knowledge in evidence. There are dramatic switcheroos up to the very last page, and a climactic battle to the death that might make even teenage boys wince. For it seems to be at that kind of readership--uncritical and doting on violence--that the novel is aimed. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; film rights sold to Martin Bregman and Universal Pictures; simultaneous Penguin audio. (Mar.) FYI: An HBO movie of A Maiden's Grave, starring James Garner and Marlee Matlin, will air in January 1997.