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California Dreaming

Hangman: A Decker/Lazarus Novel by Faye Kellerman (William Morrow; $25.99; 422 pages)

The Kellerman family crime drama franchise is alive and well.   In this case, Faye Kellerman’s devoted couple Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus are once-again faced with decisions regarding family and duty.   After 24 years of Decker and Lazarus stories, this book feels more like getting caught up on news with old friends than a gory murder mystery.   Maybe that’s because Ms. Kellerman’s side of the house focuses on family values, the power of faith and genuine caring, regardless of whether someone is actually kin.

The requisite murder is by hanging, or so it would appear, and the list of suspects is just long enough to create confusion for the investigators.   Of course there is the usual second plot line with a personal twist involving Peter’s willingness to help others, even if it means putting everyone around him in danger.   The other bad guy is a character he encountered many years ago on the job as a member of L.A.’s finest.  

Gabe, the 14-year-old piano prodigy son of the exonerated murder turned hit man, is the one in need of protection to keep him from becoming collateral damage from the angry interaction of his parents.   Gabe and his mom have fled the east coast for California and the masterly assistance of Peter Decker.

Fortunately for Gabe, who needs to keep up his piano practicing, Rina Lazarus is well-connected with the doctor of a world-famous pianist associated with the University of Southern California (USC) and, well, you can fill in the blanks.   As a member of the USC Trojan family by marriage, this reviewer is always happy to encounter the usual reference to the university in the Kellerman novels, whether it’s Jonathan or Faye who is telling the story.

The take-away from this episode is that family counts and the choices that need to be made are farther reaching than planning vacations or having fun.   A loving community, whether as small as a family or as large as a school, accepts others and is inclusive – very simple but very hard to put into practice.

Recommended, though there are no huge surprises here which is just what a Kellerman reader expects.   This one is like returning to a warm, comfortable bed on a cold Winter’s day.  

This review was written by Ruta Arellano.   A review copy was received from the publisher.   Note:  Although they generally write separately, Jonathan and Faye Kellerman have written two novels together (Capital Crimes, Double Homicide) and one Young-Adult novel with their daughter Aliza (Prism).

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Lessons Learned

Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin’s Griffin, $16.99, 320 pages)

my third husband lisa scottoline

Veteran suspense novelist Lisa Scottoline has gathered gems from the “chick wit” that she dishes out in her weekly Philadelphia Inquirer column.   These columns have been augmented with observations on life and family, most notably Mother Mary.

Scottoline has two sides:  the East Coast lawyer and the  Italian-American woman of a certain age, or as she prefers, a woman of an uncertain age.   The author’s impeccable comedic timing can be enjoyed in a wide variety of topics ranging from body parts to Internet passwords.   Lisa – her first name is a must since you really get to know her – is a writer who can turn selecting the paint color for your house into stand-up-worthy humor.

third husband back cover

My Third Husband is packed full of genuine laughter, love, and touching wisdom.   Some book dust jackets promise side-splitting humor only to fall short; however, this book hits a grand slam.   This reader laughed so hard and often that her husband began to wonder what had possessed her.

Recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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