by Faye Kellerman
Recommended Ages: 14+
When I previously looked in on Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus, he was an LAPD detective, and divorced father of a teenage girl, investigating serial rapes and the occasional murder; she was a fetching young mother of two small boys, a widow who ran a mikvah (ritual bath) at a yeshiva (Orthodox Jewish community). At the end of that book, it wasn't certain that he, a lapsed Baptist, had any chance of winning over her, a very religious Jew. But there was a gleam of hope.
Obviously, that hope was realized, because Book 25 finds them married, sorta-halfway retired in the upstate college town of Greenbury, N.Y. Their nest is empty, unless you count a junior detective with the Greenbury P.D. named Tyler McAdams, who has kind of adopted them and takes every opportunity to invite himself over for dinner. Apparently, this arrangement has been going on for a couple of books, because the Deckers have a bit of history in Greenbury by now. In the grand tradition of "trouble finds him," the veteran homicide cop finds himself dealing with one homicide after another in a town that never had that kind of trouble before.
This year's crop of murder starts with a young man from the neighboring, mostly blue-collar town of Hamilton turning up with his skull bashed in just over the Greenbury side of the town line. It hardly seems possible that Brady Neil's death could be unconnected to his father's conviction for the murder of a wealthy Hamilton couple – though the dad, Brandon Gratz, is still safely locked up. Twenty years ago, the Hamilton PD seemingly did a good job catching him and his accomplice. Now, the very fact that Decker is looking into the case puts a lot of backs up – and, quite possibly, puts another killer on the warpath.
The result is a convulted mystery in which the integrity of an entire police department comes under scrutiny. Multiple people suffer gruesome deaths. A young cop has her grit tested. A bombing, a hostage situation and some close-quarters combat ensue. I don't mean to spoil anything, but the reader should be prepared for the rather unusual possibility that this time, Peter Decker may not get his man. He'll solve the mystery, sure, but like reality, it won't be neat.