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Murder 101: A Decker/Lazarus Novel


Murder 101: A Decker/Lazarus Novel

After 30 years as a detective with the LAPD, Peter Decker has moved to a smaller police force in the quiet college community of Greenbury, New York. He and his wife, Rina Lazarus, are happy to be closer to their children and grandchildren, while enjoying a semi-retirement and the cooler weather. Deep down, Decker misses the exciting work he did as a Los Angeles police lieutenant. When an art theft seems to lead to two brutal murders, Decker, along with his annoying young partner, is in for an exciting case that is bigger than big city big. MURDER 101 is the latest in Faye Kellerman's long-running Decker/Lazarus series, and the change of setting seems to have been good for both her characters and the novel as a whole.

"Kellerman hits her stride with MURDER 101, as the straightforward police work, diverse characters and engaging whodunit all add up to an entertaining read."

Decker's new job in Greenbury is mostly desk work for crimes no greater than typical burglaries. When two Tiffany window panes are stolen from the mausoleum of the Bergmans, a prominent New York family, and replaced with forgeries, Decker thinks the case is probably nothing special but admits it gives him “a little jolt” of excitement. The first challenge to solving the case, however, is his partner, Tyler McAdams. McAdams is a 26-year-old Harvard graduate with seemingly no real interest in police work, but with a well-connected family pressuring him to start law school. Decker and McAdams have law school and their current jobs in common, but little else. Decker finds McAdams snotty, dismissive and entitled, while McAdams finds Decker over the hill and uptight. But, with the discovery of the body of college student Angeline Moreau, together they begin to connect the stolen stained glass with the homicide. And the brutal killing of John Latham, a visiting scholar specializing in Soviet-era art, further complicates matters.

Is the Bergman family involved in selling stolen art? Did Angeline participate in crimes more organized than amateur forgery? And how might it all be related to a famous art heist years earlier of some valuable Russian icons? It looks like Decker's retirement job and the job McAdams took to bide his time are really putting them to work. And the work becomes a matter of life and death when assassination attempts are made on the partners in their own homes.

To bolster the resources of his new small town police force, Decker calls on his former colleague, Scott Oliver, and Lazarus, too, proves essential to solving the case. It is wonderful to have Lazarus in such a lead role in this novel; Kellerman's best books always have her doing a lot of work with her husband, adding insights and fresh perspective. She is, at times, a bit too good to be true as a character, but that barely detracts from the success of the novel itself. The pace of MURDER 101 is steady, and in McAdams, Kellerman introduces a compelling character who makes some affecting changes throughout the course of the story. Most of Decker and Lazarus's family members make at least brief appearances, too, so that long-time readers will know what is happening with the family in whom they have become invested.

In the end, the art world murders and heists are much bigger than Decker and McAdams could've imagined. Kellerman hits her stride with MURDER 101, as the straightforward police work, diverse characters and engaging whodunit all add up to an entertaining read. 

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on September 5, 2014

Murder 101: A Decker/Lazarus Novel
by Faye Kellerman

  • Publication Date: September 2, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0062270184
  • ISBN-13: 9780062270184