Faye Kellerman,
Stone Kiss
(Time Warner, 2002)

When the body of Ephraim Lieber turns up in a seedy motel room in New York City, Rabbi Lieber turns to his older half brother, Los Angeles Police Lt. Peter Decker, to make sense out of the execution-style murder of his brother-in-law. After receiving the frantic call, Decker, his wife Rina Lazarus and their daughter Hannah board a plane to New York and end up in the small Orthodox Jewish community of Quinton.

Although Decker goes out of his way to help, it appears that the Lieber family business is not any of Decker's business. Even the NYPD seems to thwart his efforts to solve the crime. Worse, the only witness Decker produced -- the victim's niece, Shayndie -- has also disappeared. No one, not even Shayndie's parents, seems to want to help Decker find her.

The Lieber family isn't the only one with business in New York City. Ten years have passed since Decker walked the streets of New York and he has some unfinished business of his own with criminal Chris Donatti. Surprisingly (or should I say, not surprisingly), the mob isn't the only connection Donatti has -- he's connected to 15-year-old Shayndie's disappearance, too. When Shayndie turns up dead, Donatti and Decker (a highly unlikely, but fascinating team) work together to solve the mystery. However, a parable shared within the novel gives away the ending so it doesn't pack as hard a punch as it could have.

I hadn't ever read anything by bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman (wife of novelist Jonathan Kellerman) before, and I did enjoy this one. I found the plot somewhat gratuitous and predictable, didn't enjoy the perversity and had hoped that Orthodox Jews might have been portrayed in a better light. However, I did like enjoy the character of Rina Lazarus (the more engaging of the duo) and would like to read a book where she takes charge. While the latest Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus novel (Kellerman's 14th) didn't leave me stone cold, Stone Kiss left me only mildly enthused.

Dennis Boutsikaris did a find job narrating this story in his compelling, cop-like (a little scratchy, yet sexy and authoritative) voice. In fact, if it weren't for the added quality of "vocal poetry in motion," I might not have plugged on until the end. Anyone interested in this book should add a star if they listen to it in the car.

- Rambles
written by Lynne Remick
published 18 January 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.