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In the beginning Faye Kellerman created a unique detective series, heavily character-based and set in the community of ultraorthodox Judaism. Rina Lazarus was so sympathetic that I embraced her character completely, even though I found it hard to accept that a highly intelligent modern American woman would voluntarily choose such a lifestyle.
The first books in the series were great, focused on young widow Rina and LAPD Detective Peter Decker, who marries Rina and becomes a loving stepfather to her two sons. Kellerman has expanded the character base throughout the series, introducing new faces that often stuck around. The most recent two books, "Gun Games" and "The Beast," have been major disappointments, not least because the emphasis on the Decker family has pretty much dissolved. Developments in "Beast" seem to indicate that the series may move in a new direction, which if it is to continue, I think it has to do.
The "mystery"--and I use the term loosely--in "Beast" is ridiculous. If you swallow the premise that a person could keep a Bengal tiger inside a suburban LA apartment complex for 2 years and the neighbors wouldn't even notice--well, I have a bridge you might like to buy. It does allow for some nice gruesome scenes, however, and the story moves along breezily, a (very) lightweight read. The big question is, What Will Faye Kellerman Do Next?
I would be happy to see Gabe Whitman and Chris Donati carry the leads in a book of their own. And I really want to know what's happened in the life of Jacob Lazarus Decker (Rina's younger son, now 30, the only character who seemed to have serious problems with the orthodox lifestyle of his parents). There's a throwaway line in "Beast" about the possibility of Gabe and Jake traveling to India together; therein lies an interesting possibility.
And as long as things are changing, I think it's time for a new narrator, and I'd really like to ditch the Jasmine character, at least until she grows up. The two problems may be related. Mitchell Greenberg makes sultry teenager Jasmine sound like a petulant 5-year-old--and we all know how much fun either of those entities is to listen to.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
There's always been a certain charm to Faye Kellerman's books: family relationships, interesting mysteries, good characters. She really misses on this book. It feels as if she's run out of stories so goes for the gross to keep her readers. Result? A rather disgusting disaster. Save your credits!
5 of 6 people found this review helpful