cover image The Beast

The Beast

Faye Kellerman. Morrow, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-212175-2

Soap opera-ish family drama distracts from the main plot line of bestseller Kellerman’s 21st Decker/Lazarus novel (after 2012’s Gun Games). LAPD veteran Peter Decker looks into the bizarre case of Hobart Penny, a wealthy recluse in his late 80s, whose body was discovered after neighbors heard roars from inside his apartment. The noises emanated from a full-grown Siberian tiger that Penny kept as a pet, but the victim died of blunt force trauma to the forehead, and was also shot in the back. With the dead man’s millions at stake, Decker logically probes those who could have benefited from killing Penny. That potentially intriguing set-up devolves into a fairly dull procedural. And even series fans may lose patience at the large amount of time given to a subplot involving Decker’s 17-year-old foster son, Gabe Whitman, a piano prodigy in love with a 16-year-old girl, which only serves to further burnish Decker and wife Rina’s reputation for being über-caring parents. (Aug.)