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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Mercedes Coffin by Faye Kellerman

A former high school geek, Genoa Greeves who is now a Silicon Valley multi-billionaire, opens the paper one day to read of a murder in LA that reminds her of a murder that occurred 15 years before. The previous murder had resulted in the death of the only person in all her high school years who was ever kind or encouraging to her, Dr. Ben Little. "Dr. Ben's" murder had never been solved and Genoa feels that she is now in the position to encourage the police to pursue this cold case with even greater diligence.

Enter our main character, Lt. Peter Decker, along with his usual staff, Marge Dunn and Scott Oliver to attempt to solve this case and earn the big financial windfall for the department that Genoa promises. Along the way, they discover links to the recent case that had piqued Genoa's interest, a long list of suspects and some fuzzy associations between the past and present.

As a frequent reader of Faye Kellerman's, I find myself annoyed lately by the author/publishers insistence on calling her novels "A Decker and Lazarus Novel". In past novels, both characters were pretty much equally involved in the cases, and while I understand that this wasn't a very realistic portrayal of a police officer and his family, it did make for better reading. I have always enjoyed Rina Lazarus Decker's role in this series. I thought I had learned a lot about orthodox Judaism, which having grown up in a tiny Montana town, I knew nothing about. Rina's role in The Ritual Bath as well as other early novels, endeared her to me as a strong minded, intelligent and pretty fearless woman. However, recently she sort of became the cookie baker, picnic maker and gardener. I understand the point the author makes, and as a stay at home wife and mom, I appreciate the importance this role has in the dynamic of her family. Her loving support is priceless to her husband and it enables him the personal stability to really pursue the bad guys with such passion. However, it doesn't really make her a very compelling literary character. It's sort of like reading about me. Yep, I'm important, but darn, I'm mundane and I'd make a pretty boring literary character.

The book is overall an average effort. The plot is interesting, the cast of characters perhaps a bit too long, but since a 15 year old case is being solved, that's probably pretty realistic. Lots of fuzzy connections, and too many "maybe's" remained at the end. Although the case is concluded, it isn't really concluded in a substantially satisfying manner. With all the tentative conclusions, the ending of the book felt timid and bland.

(Posted on LibraryThing May 30, 2008)


Unknown said...

Looking forward to the new book.