Faye Kellerman Tries a Little Tenderness in 'The Theory of Death'

Faye Kellerman's The Theory of Death is a very serious mystery novel featuring her recurring characters Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus. Decker and his wife have moved to Greenbury, New York, where he will work with the police department until he decides to retire. He likes the slower pace of this community as compared to his work in California. He also likes the fact most of their family are now in the same time zone.

As this novel opens Decker is in touch with Tyler McAdama, a now law student at Harvard, who once worked with him on the job. Tyler wants to come to Greenbury to spend time with the Deckers and also to prepare for his exams. Tyler is like a son to Peter and Rina so he agrees, with the stipulation that Tyler will spend his time studying and not hanging around with Peter on his police work.

Of course as soon as Tyler gets to Greenbury, Decker gets a call about a body discovered in the woods. Tyler tags along and is soon knee-deep into the investigation of this apparent suicide. One thing leads to another and soon Tyler is back on the job meeting with possible witnesses and/or friends of the deceased. Later another death occurs and a full-fledged investigation ensues.

Rina also gets involved in her husband's case as he values her opinion, and also because he thinks her involvement will give Tyler an excuse to step aside and study. Good luck with that. Rina's involvement does give Kellerman a chance to show a tender side to her writing. Rina is a perfect helpmate to Decker and doesn't want it to be any other way. She keeps him company when he has to travel, brings along snacks for their trips, and even offers consolation to the parents of the young man who committed suicide.

Rina provides balance to Decker's ways. He can be touchy and gruff, but she always manages to tame the bear within. She is his sounding board and in some ways his conscience. Kellerman does not put her in the forefront of her stories but rather brings her forward when she needs to be there, and only then.

The "Lazarus and Decker" series of books is a very popular one, and The Theory of Death is one of the best in this series. It is interesting, suspenseful and just a little bit tender thanks to Rina.

The Theory of Death is published by William Morrow. It contains 384 pages and sells for $26.99.

Jackie K Cooper