Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hangman by Faye Kellerman

Hangman: A Decker/Lazarus NovelFaye Kellerman always provides a good read with her Decker/Lazarus novels. A couple of characters from one of Decker's early cases, Chris Donetti, and his wife, Terry, show up in this one. Donetti and Terry are in a troubled marriage. Well, living as the wife of a contract killer can't be all roses, now, can it? Terry asks Decker to be there when she meets with Chris to tell him she wants a separation. Shortly after the meeting, things go awry, and Terry disappears, leaving behind their teenaged son, Gabe.

Right about that time, a woman's body is discovered, hanging naked from the rafters of a house under construction, and Decker gets the case. As he digs into her life to try to find some suspects, the novel turns into the usual methodic investigation, and eventually takes some odd twists, as there turn out to be more than one villain in the piece.

But this novel isn't as much about detective work as it is about family, really. Decker and Rina take in Donetti's son, Gabe, and give him a home while Decker is trying to find out what became of his mother. It's unclear whether she was murdered by Chris, or whether she took the opportunity to run away from her life, leaving her son behind. He stays in the bedroom that used to belong to Rina's two sons, who are now away at college, with only Hannah still at home. Hannah becomes like a big sister to Gabe, and gets him involved in helping out with her school choir, as he's a quite accomplished pianist.

When the family gets together for Decker's birthday, they include Gabe, and make him feel welcome in all ways, for as long as he needs to stay. Rina and Decker are an example of how good, stable, parents treat their kids, and other people's kids, too. In real life, people like them quietly go about helping others, and tend to acquire quite a few "adoptees", who forever feel like part of the family.

So, the murder eventually gets solved, and all is well, but I think Mrs. Kellerman just needed to add another personality to the Decker/Lazarus mix, and did it in a way that took the edge off of what could have been a brutal and depressing novel.

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