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on August 18, 2007
Having read the other books in this series and having waited almost 2 years for this book, I was really looking forward to this latest entry about Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus. Unfortunately, it was somewhat of a letdown. One of Faye Kellerman's strengths is weaving the home life of Peter and Rina in with Peter's professional life as an LAPD Lieutenant. Although some time has passed since the last book, Kellerman fails to fill us in fully on the family. Rina's boys are absent, Hannah's teenage angst is hinted at but never fully developed and Peter's daughter Cindy and her husband make quick appearances. Part of the charm of this series is the description of what it's like living in Peter and Rina's Orthodox Jewish home, but the explanation of customs is missing in this book. As to the mystery, it rests on some pretty far-fetched coincidences. The ending comes with a whimper, after a few red herrings, and is never fully resolved. Hopefully, the next book will be better.
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VINE VOICEon July 17, 2008
The return of Peter and Rina Decker is always welcome. It combines good police procedure and the smell of good food. This novel is no exception. It begins with the crash of a small commuter plane out of Burbank (Bob Hope) airport early one morning and the supposed death of an airline steward. When all the victims are accounted for, her body is not identified, although the remains of bones beneath the destroyed structure into which the plane plunged are discovered.

Thus begins the hunt for the truth behind the disappearance of two women. The skeleton is finally identified as someone gone missing thirty years before. The stewardess' body remains the subject of a continued search. Is the husband somehow responsible for her disappearance or even her possible murder? Or is it a contractor in San Jose with whom she had a brief affair? What started out as two unrelated incidents draws Decker and his team back and forth to San Jose and New Mexico in an effort to uncover 30-year-old information in attempt to solve the cases.

With more questions than answers the investigation unearths more dead ends than answers. But perseverance is virtue that pays off in the end. And the interrelationship of Peter and Rina is on display deeply, as she provides a sounding board to guide him both supernaturally and professionally. Tightly plotted and well-written, the series remains a joy to read.
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Homicide Lieutenant Peter Decker gets drawn into the investigation of Roseanne Dresden. She's listed as a passenger on the plane, but was she working as a flight attendant? Riding jump seat to her Burbank home from San Jose? Or did she run off to start a new life to escape from a difficult marriage?

So far so good. I have to admit I had trouble putting this book down for the first 200 pages or so...up till Kellerman throws her readers a curve with an improbable coincidence. After that I skimmed through to the ending, which definitely does not live up to the first third of the book.

Apart from the ending, the book could have been cut by at least 100 pages. We get details of forensic techniques. We get descriptions of what everyone was wearing, even some minor characters. And we get too much details of police interrogations.

I also can't help wondering if the LAPD would invest substantial resources to fly to another state for a cold case. And some of the airline information didn't seem quite right.

All in all, frustrating to get so interested and then deal with an anticlimax ending. Great writing -- just needed some heavy-handed edits. And I would have to agree with the reviewers who criticized the book jacket. A good mystery -- maybe. Definitely not a "mind-searing portrait of unimaginable evil that will challenge Decker's and Rina's own beliefs..." Not even close.
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on September 27, 2007
I had high hopes for Faye Kellerman's latest publication but the promise far exceeded the reality. Tighter editing of unnecessary and endless discussions of food, the sweating habits of large men and the impact of tampax failure on luminol results would have gone a long way. The plot was somewhat plausible but never really came together in a meaningful way. Rina and Peter have more to offer than this book gave them credit for.
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on November 1, 2007
I've read all the previous Decker/Lazarus novels and to say that this one is a disappointment is a true understatement. The writing in particular is disapointing: unsophisticated, almost juvenile in comparison to earlier volumes. I keep asking myself which one of the younger Kellermans actually wrote this book. And for heaven's sake, where was the editor?
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on September 16, 2007
I found this book to be very boring compared to her other works. I kept waiting for the bodies of "four additional travelers" (only one extra body is found) and for the "unimaginable evil that will challenge Decker's and Rina's own beliefs...". Nothing in this book could be described as unimaginable evil (in fact, just the opposite.... plain, old, dull reasons for murder....)and no other bodies were found.
The book was a big let down for me... expected more from the description.
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on January 4, 2008
Is it an unwriiten rule that book series have a limited lifespan and that they will ultimately disappoint their fans. This book is the latest evidence pointing to that rule. I didn't get a real feel for any of the characters here. Peter was too good to be true. What does Rina do with all her spare time? Peter is never home and Hannah is a teenager. What is it like being a Jewish teenager in America. I don't know but I would be interested in learning. Instead we get pages and pages of investigation into an old jacket. I am thrilled that Dunn has a honey but I was never properly introduced to him.

The plot line just kind of ambled along. I wasn't convinced with the final unveiling of the murderer. Oh well, you can't fight unwritten rules.
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VINE VOICEon September 18, 2007
...it wasn't anywhere near the best book of this series.

For starters, the person who wrote the plot synopsis on the book jacket (and in the Amazon listing) apparently didn't read the book. I kept waiting for the "unidentified bodies of four extra travellers" but they never appeared. And there was definitely no "relentless suspense" or "mind-searing portrait of unimaginable evil that will challenge Decker's and Rina's own beliefs about guilt and innocence and justice." Just the typical motives for murder with a coincidental little twist. After that big build-up, the actual plot was somewhat of a let-down

I enjoy Rina as a character but in this book she was mostly relegated to cooking. More Rina next time, please.

A good mystery will get me to overlook the elements that strain believability. In this book I found myself getting distracted by the thought that it would be no wonder the LAPD has budget problems if they really do fly several people around to different cities when one would be enough. It seemed hard to believe they would send 3 officers and a civilian to another state to show a picture to the parents of the possible victim of a decades old crime.

Even though it was not a great book, it was a decent read and entertaining enough so that I will read the next installment in this series. But I do hope the next one will be better.
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VINE VOICEon December 13, 2007
I have read many of Faye Kellerman's Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus novels and enjoyed them. This has a very exciting start with a small commuter plane crashing into an apartment building near the school that Hannah, Peter and Rina's daughter, goes to. All onboard the plane are dead. The airline lists 48 passengers and crew. Forty-eight bodies are recovered but one body is NOT from the crash and had died many years ago. Some of the plots to solve are who is the mystery body and where is the 48th passenger?

There are lots of twists and turns that make at least the first two-thirds of the book very exciting. I did feel that the final denouement was a bit pat and there were a few too many coincidences. Still a good read though.

My real problem is that I didn't feel that Rina Lazarus really had a substantial role in this book as she has had in others. She cooked and she worried and she comforted, which are all great things to do. However, the book jacket said that Peter and Rina's faith would be tested and so on. This didn't happen at all. I would like to see a bigger role for Rina and a few less coincidences.

Recommended but not highly.
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on May 27, 2009
This book is the least enjoyable of any of the others of Kellerman's novels. The missing elements for me included the family life and customs of the Deckers and their community. By the end of the first half of the book, I put it down. The story itself is poorly written and structured; during one spot, Decker is eating a sandwich, finishes it, then on the next page, finishes it off again. Really sloppy editing. I checked the cover to be sure it wasn't a self-published book. Burnt House lacks the professional writing and editing that is usually present in Kellerman's work. A big disappointment. Since turning 50, I never read to the end when reading a lousy novel. I move right on to the next book waiting by my reading chair. This is the first time I've put one of her stories down without relishing the characters lingering with me for a while after I finish reading. I wonder what happened during the writing and production of this lousy read?
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