L.A. homicide detective Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus, his Orthodox Jewish wife, return in a new entry in this popular series
. Faye Kellerman can be counted on to deliver emotional complexity along with suspense, and in The Forgotten
it comes from the relationship between Peter and Jacob, Rina's troubled teenage son. Jacob has a personal connection to the event that sets off this intricately plotted novel, the defacing of Rina's synagogue by one of his classmates. Ernesto Golding can't explain why he vandalized the synagogue, but when he and his therapists are murdered months after the incident, Peter realizes that something the teenager told him when admitting his guilt may hold the key to the killings: Ernesto's belief that his grandfather may have been a Nazi who posed as a Jew to escape to South America after the war. Investigating Ernesto's story gives Rina a strand of the plot to tease out; meanwhile, Peter concentrates on another motive for the therapist murders that involves computer fraud, the College Board exams, and the high cost exacted by parents who pressure their teenagers to succeed.
Kellerman skillfully keeps the dramatic tension going as she pulls all the pieces of her complex plot together. But what makes this novel her best yet is her acutely revealing portrait of Jacob, struggling with the existential angst of adolescence as he attempts to reconcile his devotion to Judaism with the temptations of contemporary life, from drugs to sex. She brilliantly limns his search for identity, intimacy, and independence even as he redefines his relationship to Peter and Rina, in a scenario that resounds with psychological truth. The Forgotten is a terrific addition to the Kellerman oeuvre. While she's always been an exceptional illustrator of the emotional life of the family, this time she writes with an expertise that may owe something to professional insights of her husband, author Jonathan Kellerman, who's also a child psychologist. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
In this complex, disturbing novel (after 2000's Stalker), Kellerman again adroitly balances Rina Lazarus's consuming Orthodox Judaism with the broader societal issues faced by her husband, L.A. homicide detective Peter Decker. Here they intertwine when the vicious defacement of their synagogue reverberates in a widening circle of murders. Ernesto Golding, a troubled, spoiled youth and acquaintance of Rina's son, Jacob, confesses to the crime, but several months later Ernesto and his therapists, Mervin and Dee Baldwin, are murdered. Ernesto had discovered that his beloved grandfather may have been a Nazi who escaped Germany disguised as a Jew. While Rina delves into this provocative strand of the plot, Peter and his staff investigate hate groups. Then another killing ties the therapists to not only the hate groups but also an insidious current of psychological and sexual manipulation and computer fraud. Kellerman focuses on the plight of desperate young people misused and misunderstood by their parents, who apply unbearable pressures for success on their often- bewildered children. She also shows the deepening love and rapport between Decker and his stepson as Jacob helps solve the case. Although the Holocaust subplot seems forced to give Rina a larger role, the author, as usual, seamlessly weaves her themes of religious belief and familial respect into a multilayered thriller, with finely realized characters and a tangible sense of place. 250,000 first printing.
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