New York, and away in a small town in North Carolina. Rhyme is in the city nearby for treatment when the sheriff from said small town arrives asking for help with a kidnapping/murder case. In one of the unnecessary twist that aggravate me in serials, the sheriff happens to be the cousin of a cop in New York, who also is a close friend of Rhyme and Sachs.
As if the one time this small town has a kidnapping and murder, which is also too difficult for them to solve alone, is also the time that the world renown Lincoln Rhyme AND his assistant happen to be 20 minutes away, with 2 or 3 days to kill before treatment, isn't coincident enough; the sheriff is the crap town is also the first cousin of a New York cop that drinks coffee with Sachs and Rhyme every day.
Aside from that, this was a good story. There were some interesting twists and turns that I didn't see coming, along with a few I did. There was little bit of a double meaning of the title, The Empty Chair, but I don't recall the details. Jeffrey Deaver has these characters pretty well down at this point and like a lot of recurring characters in serial novels, they are like old acquaintances at this point. The relationship between Sachs and Rhyme is a little tortured, and I don't read enough of the books in this series (never mind, in any kind of order) to really understand it.