5 stars (out of 5)
Opening a new Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus book always is accompanied by a bit of excitement - I've read them all (this is the 21st), and while some have been better than others, I've enjoyed every single one. This one, IMHO, is one of the best.
Any disappointment, if you can call it that, is that it seems Rina's role has diminished over time (a trend that became noticeable in last year's Gun Games). In the past, she's been more directly involved in her husband's murder investigations, and there's been more interaction between the two of them. Now, her life has taken a back seat, mostly serving as the chief family cook and mediator between Peter, an LAPD detective, and the high-strung musical prodigy they've taken in at least for the short haul.
Besides that, I've always enjoyed learning more about Orthodox Judaism (Peter came to that party when he married Rina many years ago). But in this book, except for a mention or two of Peter's need to be home by sundown on Friday to observe Shabbat, the subject is virtually nonexistent. Then too, there's the matter of more than a couple of grammatical errors that should have been caught - but that's more on the head of copy editors than the author (and something, unfortunately, that's become quite common in books I've read over the past few years).
As for the story, it involves a particularly gory murder of an old, and extremely eccentric and exceedingly wealthy recluse who keeps an adult tiger in his apartment and apparently enjoys kinky sex with ladies of the evening. Early on, Peter and his LAPD colleagues learn that the tiger's roar is much worse than her bite - and the chase is on to find the real killer. That leads the crew from a remote wildlife sanctuary to Las Vegas casinos and includes a consult with Dr. Alex Delaware, the lead character in books by Kellerman's husband, Jonathan.
Meanwhile, that teenage child prodigy is having problems all his own, creating tension at home. Everything comes together to present a dilemma (and possible major life change) for Peter and Rina which, I assume, will provide very interesting fodder for the next book.
I'll be waiting!
The Beast by Faye Kellerman (William Morrow, August 2013); 384 pp.