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Book Review: Gun Games by Faye Kellerman

Copyright: 2012 by Plot Line, Inc.
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Gun Games is the twentieth novel in the Peter Decker/ Rina Lazarus series by Faye Kellerman. I have been reading this series for over 25 years and have already read number 22, Murder 101. Luckily, any one of these police stories can be read as a stand-alone book. Gun Games takes place in Los Angeles where Detective Lieutenant Peter Decker is in charge of the homicide unit. He and his wife Rina are foster parents to a 15-year-old piano prodigy, Gabe Whitman. The first part of the plot rotates between the love life of Gabe, and a case involving the suicide of two students from a well-known private high school.

The first half of the book moves fairly slowly. Young Gabe meets a 14-year-old girl, Yasmine, who shares his interest in music. He is the white Catholic son of a mob boss and she the brown-skinned daughter of Persian Jews. Each knew that their parents would not approve of their relationship, not only because of their different backgrounds but also because they were so young, so they kept it secret. There are numerous texts exchanged between the kids and a very descriptive portrayal of an adolescent boys thoughts and feeling regarding sex. The other side of the coin involves the homicide investigation. Teenager Gregory Hesse appears to have committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. His mother asks Sergeant Marge Dunn to investigate as she did not believe her son was depressed. The investigation leads to a problem with bullying in the school, but no one will talk about it. Then there was a second suicide. This time it was a girl.

The plot lines intersected when Gabe had some contact with the bully, Dylan, who was the high school version of his own father. Gabe and Yasmine were threatened by the bully and his gang about at about the same time the police were tying Dylan to the suspicious suicides. At this point the plot moves a little faster.

Although Faye Kellerman remains one of my favorite authors, and I actually enjoyed much of this book, this was not her best effort. Not only did I have no interest in the intimate details of the attraction between a 14 and 15-year-old kids, and their constant texting to each other, neither of these things contributed much to the mystery. This was one of the few instances in the Peter Decker series that I felt the author could have left out about a third of the book and told the same story more effectively. I like the character, Gabe, but I’m not real fond of his gangster father and I have a problem with the man getting away with murder, seemingly with Decker’s knowledge and approval. One of the things that I liked most when this series began was the description of Orthodox Jewish practices and beliefs. Gun Games mentions that some of the characters are Jewish but it really doesn’t expand on that. Aside from the Romeo and Juliet story with the teens, there is not much in it about cultural or religious beliefs. It would have been the perfect opportunity to enlighten us on Yasmine’s Persian-Jewish family and how they are different from anyone else. The next book in this collection is The Beast and I look forward to reading it.

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