4 stars out of 5
It's almost hard to believe this is the 22nd book in the Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series - if I missed any, I'm not aware of them, so you could say I've been around from the git-go. I "watched" as they got hitched, Peter struggled early on with becoming a practicing Jew, they dealt with teenage sons and a new baby and now, a new life in a new place.
In her most recent book, "The Beast," the author hinted that the couple might be thinking about moving from Los Angeles to be closer to their children and grandchildren. And that's exactly what they've done here, relocating to a small community in upstate New York where Peter is working for the Greenbury Police Department.
Wen I finished the first couple of chapters, I had a vague feeling that something was "off." Both Peter and Rina seemed a bit unsure of how they feel about the change (Peter more so), and somehow it didn't feel quite right to me, either. Of course, going from a fast-paced big-city department to one where rescuing kittens from trees provides the big excitement of the day would make me question my decision as well.
Peter has partnered up with fairly recent Harvard grad Tyler McAdams, who's got money, a lousy attitude and a totally obnoxious personality. He's also got friends in high places, so like it or not, Peter's stuck with him (adding to Peter's trouble adjusting to the new surroundings). But then, a real crime is reported: valuable Tiffany panels have been stolen from a family mausoleum and replaced by fake versions. Not long thereafter, a female student from the local consortium of five liberal arts schools is murdered, and it seems there could be a connection to the theft.
Since Peter has 30 years of experience in the homicide field, he's tapped to lead the investigation. That, in turn, leads to forays and encounters within the halls of academia and the world of ancient works of art, including pieces that may have been stolen by the Nazis. I must say the ins and outs were a little hard for me to follow - there was almost too much historical information and too many characters. I found myself re-reading pages here and there just to make sure I remembered who was who.
The move wasn't the only noticeable change, either; Rina takes on a much larger role here than usual. That's not a bad thing, mind you - in a couple of the older books, I actually wondered why her name was even in the book title. In a couple of spots, in fact, she actually outshines her husband in the sleuthing department. My guess? This will be the trend for future books, with Rina becoming as much a partner in Peter's career as she is in their marriage.
Murder 101 by Faye Kellerman (William Morrow, September 2014); 389 pp.