Monday, July 9, 2012

Gun Games by Faye Kellerman

I always look forward to a new Decker/Lazarus novel by Kellerman. This novel just moves along steadily, much like an actual police investigation, and inexhorably towards its final destination, without too many surprises along the way, really.

When the mother of a good, but nerdy, student at an exclusive prep school who has committed suicide contacts Decker and asks him to dig deeper into her son's death, she provides just enough justification for him to open the investigation. The family has never had any firearms in the house, and no one knows how the boy, Gregory, got the stolen pistol he used to end his life. All of the physical evidence on the scene confirms that it was a suicide, but Decker agrees to give it a second look.

(By the way, I caught one mistake in this book. The suicide was committed with a pistol - mentioned several times - but when Decker's detectives revisit the scene later, the cleaning crew has already cleaned up the mess from - the shotgun blast. Where did Kellerman paste that bit of text from, I wonder?)

When a second student from the same school, Myra Gelb, also kills herself, and the pistol used turns out also to have been stolen a number of years earlier, Decker and his detectives Marge Dunn and Scott Oliver turn up the heat on the investigation a bit.

In a seemingly unrelated story, we get to follow Decker and Rina's fifteen year old foster son, Gabe, as he readies himself for study at either Harvard or Juilliard next year, and begins to audition for some summer jobs as a pianist. He meets a cute Persian Jewish girl, Yasmine, who is only fourteen, at a coffee shop, and she incites him to go to La Traviata with her, as she has somehow acquired two tickets, and none of her friends or family are really interested in opera - her very strict and traditional father has determined that she will be a doctor someday, and music is just foolishness. Of  course, the two become infatuated with one another, and carry on a texting love affair and clandestine trysts for weeks while Decker is busily investigating teen suicides.

Kellerman walks a fine line, politically speaking, on a couple of issues in this book, giving us some almost contradictory messages.

"Guns are bad, as they contribute to teen suicide."
"Guns are good, as they allow one of our heros to defend himself against a group of attackers."
"Bullying is a huge problem in our schools, and you should always report it to your teachers or principal."
"Teachers and the principal are totally ineffectual in countering bullying, and your best bet is to take matters into your own hands, or make some sort of accomodation with the bullies."

A fast, fun read.

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