cover image Prayers for the Dead

Prayers for the Dead

Faye Kellerman. William Morrow & Co Inc, $24 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14367-1

Powerful, assured and absorbing, Kellerman's ninth Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus (Sanctuary; Justice) mystery begins with the brutal murder and mutilation of renowned heart surgeon, researcher and fundamentalist Christian Azor Sparks. LAPD Lieutenant Decker gets the call. He also gets an abundance of suspects. First there is Sparks's large family: his wife, Dolores, and six adult children, including triplets (Paul, Luke and Abram, a Catholic priest), and their assorted spouses. Then there are the victim's surgical and research colleagues and his unlikely biking buddies. Religion and morality are integral to Kellerman's mysteries--built on the bedrock of the Deckers' orthodox Judaism. Here she deftly casts her net around the commanding victim, whose shadow lay equally over family and colleagues, and his son, the theologian Father Abram, whose past connection with Rina may force Decker off the case. Human strengths and frailties, decisions made or not made and mistakes overcome or yet to be reckoned with provide the material that Decker must sift through to find the murderer. As his competent staff (Marge Dunn among them) launch their probes in all directions, they uncover a catalogue of motives that may relate to Sparks's murder and to another that follows. Kellerman succeeds brilliantly in making the search for understanding as compelling as the search for the murderer. 100,000 first printing; audio rights to Brilliance. (Aug.)