Can you believe Labor Day has come and gone? Summer seemed to zip past as fast as Hurricane Earl. Here are two from Faye Kellerman, who now has 19 novels in her husband-and-wife team of Peter Decker and Rina Lazurus. I read the first offering, Ritual Bath, in the late 1980’s and have followed the series since, when Detective Decker investigates a murder at an Orthodox Jewish mikvah bath-house, and first meets young widow Rina and her two small boys.
Years later, married with their own daughter getting ready for college, Peter is a lieutenant in the LAPD homicide squad in Blindman’s Bluff. Someone has broken into the exclusive Coyote Ranch, the compound of billionaire developer Guy Kaffey, and viciously gunned down him and wife, as well as four employees. One of his two sons on site has been severely injured but survives the massacre.
Decker’s detective team includes Marge Dunn and Scott Oliver, his groundmen as the three figure quickly understand that the breach of security which allowed this travesty points to an inside job. A billionaire like Kaffey has enemies galore. To complicate matters, he also has a habit of of hiring delinquents to givie them second chances, often including them in his personal security team. When Rina’s jury duty puts her in the path of a gang of ruthless killers, the stakes are raised.
The second offering, and perhaps stronger book of the two, is Hangman. In a strange twist, Decker gets involved looking for the missing wife of professional killer Chris Donatti, two people who have crossed his life fifteen years earlier. Terry’s disappearance is followed shortly by that of Chris, leaving their 14 hy-old son Gabe with no one to turn to except Decker and his wife.
Decker’s regular caseload and team are focused on solving the murder of a nurse found swinging from the rafters of a house under construction. There are signs of a serial killer about this murder, complicated by the young victim. Despite being a conscientious rehab nurse, she has her share of detractors, who chronicle her off-work life as a party girl, enjoying booze, kinky sex and revenge-cheating on her boyfriend.
Athough all of Kellerman’s books include a dose of his home life with Rina and their daughter Hannah, this one includes more because they shelter Gabe. Decker’s daughter from his first marriage, now a policewoman herself, is involved in a minor way in one of the cases, as Decker’s 60th birthday seems one he might not find himself celebrating.
Two more from Kellerman, the wife of author Jonathan Kellerman, whose Alex Delaware novels are also reviewed as I read them. The Kellerman’s have sprouted writers in the family–son Jessie is a playwright and novelist; daughter Aliza has just teamed up with her mother to write a young adult novel.