Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review: Murder 101 by Faye Kellerman

Murder 101 (Peter Decker & Rina Lazarus, Book #22)
by Faye Kellerman
Release Date: September 2, 2014
2014 William Morrow
Ebook Edition; 374 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062270184
Genre: Fiction / Murder / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

As a detective lieutenant with the LAPD, Peter Decker witnessed enough ugliness and chaos for a lifetime. Now, he and his devoted wife Rena Lazarus are ready to enjoy the quiet beauty of upstate New York, where they can be closer to their four adult children and their foster son.

But working for the Greenbury Police department isn’t as fulfilling as Decker hoped.  While Rina has adapted beautifully to their new surroundings, Decker is underwhelmed and frustrated by his new partner, Tyler McAdams, a former Harvard student and young buck with a bad ‘tude. Just when he thinks he’s made a mistake, Decker is called to his first real crime here—a possible break-in at the local cemetery.

At first, it seems like a false alarm until it’s discovered that a mausoleum’s stunning Tiffany panels have been replaced by forgeries. Then, a coed at one of the exclusive local colleges is brutally murdered. Poking into the hallowed halls of academia to find a killer, Decker and McAdams are drawn deep into a web of dark secrets, cold case crimes, international intrigue, and ruthless people who kill for sport.

My Thoughts
Murder 101 showed a lot of promise as Peter Decker finally did what he threatened to do for over three books now, and that was retire, and moved across the country to Greenbury, a much smaller town than LA.  I was looking forward to a return to a simpler detective story, one of those small town stories where a murderer lived in the midst of everyone for years and no one actually knew about it.  However, that was not to be, and I was somewhat disappointed in that.

Decker's new partner is a Harvard graduate named Tyler who really has no formal training in law enforcement, but happens to have "connections."  It doesn't take long for Tyler to get under Decker's skin and aggravate him by his lack of knowledge and some of the bantering and conversations between them were actually quite interesting and fun, maybe the better moments of the book.  Tyler is whiny, and really doesn't like to do work, but we eventually learn that the major problem is his relationship with his father who is rather well-known in New York.  One of the things I enjoyed in this novel was Tyler's development as a character and I've developed a fondness for him I did not have at the beginning of the novel.  I am curious to see what the author will do with his character as he is supposed to be heading to law school as his assignment with Decker was only temporary.  

The other good surprise was seeing more of Rina, Decker's wife, but it still wasn't enough for me.  An extremely intelligent woman, she made some rather good suggestions on how to proceed with the case, and I rather liked seeing her more involved in Decker's work.  I did think that someone with Decker's experience could have figured out some of the things for himself, and it was just a tool to introduce Rina more into the book and show us that she would be more involved in the future, but I overlooked it as I have missed her these past few novels.  

Despite all of this, even though the new setting kind of brought Decker back to life, I did feel like the plot was a bit...boring.  The art information was interesting, and I always like that kind of thing, but the continuous driving back and forth to Boston and then New York, which I am sure would take longer than 1 1/2 hours (but I'll leave that up to people who actually live there, and not to my more faulty memory of only one trip there), got kind of tedious and sort of made you lose track of the reasons for going to these places.  I'm also not sure why everything has to be this big international thing all of the time; what happened to those old-fashioned mysteries that take place in small towns and it was the sweet little old lady who did it by putting arsenic in someone's tea cup?  Sometimes simple is better.

Murder 101 was a fast, okay read that I did enjoy as I have always looked forward to a Peter Decker novel.  The past three or four novels were not my favourites in the series, but this one seems to have brought a little life back to Decker with new characters and new places and new targets.  I do wish the plot didn't always have to be this big international thing in nature as a lot of motives for crime that are interesting do happen at home and are not big international crimes, you know?  I did like how the author was able to balance family time with the actual crime scene components as I think it is good to see Decker able to relax and enjoy his semi-retirement somewhat.  I will probably read the next one in the series to see what happens, and after that, we'll see.


  1. I've certainly heard of the author, but because my favoured fiction reading tends to lean towards the espionage novel, I've not particularly gotten into reading mysteries.

  2. Replies
    1. I love espionage as well, but sometimes I like a good, old-fashioned mystery that doesn't necessarily have to be international. There are so many good crime novels where the motif is actually quite basic.

    2. Sorry, that would be the English motive, not the French motif. I sometimes get the two languages mixed up.