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Killing Season: A Thriller by Faye Kellerman

Reviewed by Mark Moderson

The Killing SeasonFaye Kellerman hits a home run with theKilling Season. After finishing the novel, I couldn’t believe that it was close to 700 pages as the pages flew by and I couldn’t wait to see if Vicks was able to solve his sister’s murder.

The novel takes place in small town New Mexico and centers around Ben Vicksburg or Vicks as he’s known throughout the story. Vicks is a high school senior and a math genius who is obsessed with finding his sister’s serial killer. The nerdy Vicks finds an unlikely sidekick in the new girl in town who happens to be way out of his league. While this may seem a bit cliché Vicks and Ro share a common link in that they have both loss a sister, as well as dealing with families that are trying to overcome a great loss. Vicks and Ro make a great team working together to try and locate the serial killer before he kills again. Read the rest of this entry »

Bone Box: A Decker/Lazarus Novel (Decker/Lazarus Novels)

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Bone BoxWhile Rina is hiking, she finds some bones which turn out to be human and have been in the ground for a few years. While investigators are combing the area looking for evidence, they find the remains of a couple more bodies which appear to have been buried within a couple of years of the first set of bones. All of the bodies were buried before the hiking trail was opened. Since the remains were found very close to each other and had been buried within a few years of each other, Decker is left with trying to determine if what he is dealing with is a serial killer in the past, or someone who is still active but who was forced to move his burial site after the trail opened. Two things shake up the investigation. The first is that it turns out that one of the potential victims may have escaped and is still alive. If this is true, then Decker needs to find her. The second thing is one of the current college students goes missing. As is often the case with college students, the frantic parents aren’t aware of some of their daughter’s activities making it harder for Decker to track her movements. Even though it is several years later, could this girl’s disappearance be linked to the bones found along the trail?

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I enjoyed this book. The case was interesting and took some unexpected turns. There were a couple of odd things though. A few times in the book the characters shifted where they were with no transition at all. For instance, on one page they are having dinner with their friends in California, and the next page they are back at their day-to-day lives in New York. And then there is the ending. I don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll leave it with saying that I was not satisfied with the ending. Not at all. It will be interesting to see where the next book begins.

Bone Box is the twenty-fourth book in the Decker/Lazarus series by Faye Kellerman. While the main characters are the same, nearly everything else in the series has shifted over the last few books. Some of those changes are expected, some are more puzzling.

The most obvious change is that Decker and Lazarus moved from California to upper state New York a few books ago. The move was logical as it puts them closer to one of their sons and his family and allows them to lead a slower paced life. Another logical change is the shift in characters. Their children are grown so readers don’t see them as much. Kellerman has filled that gap by having Decker’s partner/intern/law student from Harvard, become almost an adopted son. In this book Tyler McAdams is a major character.

The two glaring shifts in the series that are a little harder to understand is Rina Lazarus’s role. The earlier books tended to have two distinct plots, one with Rina and one with Decker. Often along the way the two stories merged with Decker’s part being the police procedural and Rina’s being the “human interest” side. Now, the books are basically all police procedurals featuring Decker’s cases. In this book, Rina’s role is reduced to cooking-for McAdams and Decker and also copious quantities of food for the Jewish holiday parties she has volunteered to host for the college students.

The other shift, one that I find most puzzling and one that makes me sad is that in the beginning and through most of the “California” books, Rina’s Orthodox Judaism played a huge role in the book. It set the tone of the books and lent a background story to how the characters interacted not only with each other, but how they viewed society in general. It was the play between Decker’s very secular view of things and Rina’s very religious view that made the books captivating. Now? It seems that Rina’s religion is all about cooking and jokes about McAdams joining the “tribe.” The Jewish rituals seem more forced than part of the flow of their lives.

In spite of the odd ending and the shifts in the series, I still love the books but I look on them differently now.

Gun Games by Faye Kellerman (Review #2)

Gun Games Reviewed by Julie Moderson

Faye Kellerman is one of my favorite authors and Gun Games is such an amazing book. It is definitely a must read book. Just a warning, you will stay up all night to finish it.

The story starts with 15-year-old Gabe Whitman sitting in a coffee shop minding his own business when a group of kids come into Starbucks looking for trouble. One of the boys tells Gabe that he is going to sit his seat and he better move now and then he shows Gabe the gun tucked in his waist band. Gabe handles it with such finesse and turns to try to be friendly with the thug. In doing so he disarms him mentally. Gabe is a very talented pianist and is home schooled so he doesn’t know whom these kids are. He is living with his father’s friend detective Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus. Children in the school that these thugs attend are committing suicide and no one can understand why. It takes a while to connect the dots and figure out what is really happening. Read the rest of this entry »

Gun Games: A Decker/Lazarus Novel by Faye Kellerman

Gun GamesReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

With long running series, it’s sometimes hard to age the main characters and their families. Readers become attached, not only the main characters, but also the supporting cast around them. The same can be said about running themes in books. In most of Kellerman’s books featuring Decker and Lazarus, there has been a strong emphasis on their families and Rina’s strong Orthodox Jewish faith. Neither really plays a part in Gun Games. The assorted Decker and Lazarus children are grown and off doing other things, no extended family is involved and Rina’s faith does not come into play much at all. This will undoubtedly disappoint some readers. Both Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus are back, as is their foster son Gabriel Whitman. This book is Gabriel’s-and possibly Kellerman’s effort to shift the series in a different direction.

Gabriel witnessed a fellow student commit suicide which given his rocky background is enough to concern the Decker household. But when the student’s mother approaches Peter saying she is sure her son’s death was not suicide and asks him to investigate, Peter agrees. It also causes Peter and Rina to wonder what Gabriel is not telling them. Things become even more intense when a second child, from the same elite school dies-also of an apparent suicide. Decker launches an all out full scale investigation. Read the rest of this entry »

Hangman by Faye Kellerman (Review #2)

Hangman by Faye KellermanReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Blindman’s Bluff by Faye Kellerman

Reviewed by

Blindman's Bluff by Faye KellermanDetective Lieutenant Peter Decker, LAPD Homicide, and his wife Rina Lazarus are awakened to a late night call. As Rina hands him the phone, knowing that this is going to bad for the force to call “The Loo” during the night. And she was right.

Not only does he come upon a gruesome multiple homicide but it’s of a very well known, high profile and extremely wealthy family. The CEO and real estate tycoon, Guy Kaffey, his wife, Gilliam, and one of his son’s, Gil, are shot during what appears to be a robbery as they sat in the massive home’s living room. Bodyguards and staff have also been killed. But Gil, one son, is critically injured but has survived and gives the police a few things that he remembers from those awful seconds. But how could this have happened with so many types of security in place?

Could this be an inside job? Guy has very strong family bonds and believes in giving some a second chance. Was that his downfall? Mace, his brother, and other son Grant, travel immediately to LA from the East Coast, where they oversee the family’s holdings there. Read the rest of this entry »