cover image Grievous Sin

Grievous Sin

Faye Kellerman. William Morrow & Company, $20 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10554-9

Complications in the delivery room lead to major surgery for Rina Decker, who, when last seen in False Prophet , was pregnant with her and husband Peter Decker's first child . She is barely out of danger when an infant vanishes from the hospital's understaffed nursery, and proud father Peter, an LAPD detective sergeant, declares (in a mercifully brief descent into melodrama), ``I owe it to that little baby girl to find her.'' Marie Bellson, the nurse in charge of the unit that night, has also disappeared, but it is difficult to tell whether the woman--apparently a fiercely dedicated nurse--is a villain or a second victim. Peter's partner, Marge Dunn, visits Marie's mother, Lita, at her retirement home. Lita, a real pistol unsoftened by age, clues Marge in on Marie's days as ``Miss Flower Child'' before she ``found Jesus'' and became a nurse. Despite extended excursions into Rina's medical tribulations and the awkward introduction of a significant character in isolated vignettes from left field, Kellerman weaves a satisfying mystery that includes elements of the Decker family's daily life as Orthodox Jews. Her plot is generated by the failings of very human characters and derives depth from her consideration of healthy and unhealthy family relationships. Author tour. (Aug.)