In any police officer’s career there are a few cases or people who stick with the officer through the years. It may be an unsolved case. It may be a heart wrenching victim. It may be an innocent man convicted. In Hangman, Kellerman uses the last scenario to set up one of the plot threads. Years ago, a friend of Peter’s confessed to a crime he didn’t commit the save someone else the ordeal of a trial. Eventually the truth came out and he was released from prison, got married, changed his name and became a hired killer. Peter has maintained contact with his wife over the years and now, she turns to Peter for help. The other plot thread follows a well liked nurse who goes missing only to be found hanging from at construction site. As it turns out, the nurse had a second life-a life on the wild side that few of her colleagues knew about.
This book takes a long time to set up and get moving. There is really not a lot of action until well past the mid point of the book and even then there are long passages of dialogue that do nothing to move the plot forward. This series isn’t read as thrillers anyway, so the slower pacing might well be fine for readers who are primarily interested in the procedural angle to the series. But for people who want more of a moving storyline or are primarily interested in Rina, the family drama and the inclusion of the Jewish Orthodox religion elements of the series, there is bound to be some disappointment. Rina is trying to plan a sixtieth birthday celebration for Peter and Hannah is preparing to leave for Israel to study, but overall, Rina, the family and the religion play a fairly minor role throughout Hangman.
There are many series where each book can stand independently from the rest. Faye Kellerman’s Decker/Lazarus books are not among them. The books are at once both police procedurals following cases LAPD Detective Peter Decker investigates and family dramas often with social ramifications that center around Peter’s Orthodox Jewish wife Rina Lazarus, with characters from both Peter’s cases and Peter and Rina’s friends and family coming and going throughout the series. Kellerman is strong on writing dialogue but because most of the relationships and action is played out through dialogue versus through a narrator readers need to read the books from the beginning and in order because there really isn’t a good way for readers to sort out the backstory to the series any other way. While skipping an occasional book or reading a couple of the later books out of order would be fine, there really is no way for a new reader to jump into the series at this point.