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The Burnt House: A Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus Novel (Decker/Lazarus Novels) Hardcover – August 7, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
A coincidence so improbable that a character comments on it renders bestseller Kellerman's 16th novel to feature Lt. Peter Decker of the LAPD and wife Rina Lazarus (after 2003's Street Dreams) one of the series' lesser entries. After a commuter airplane crashes into an apartment building shortly after takeoff from Burbank Airport, Decker and his team investigate what many fear was a terrorist attack. Meanwhile, the parents of Roseanne Dresden, a flight attendant, suspect that their daughter was murdered by her stockbroker husband, Ivan, who claims his wife joined the doomed flight at the last minute. Roseanne was considering divorce, and Ivan stood to lose financially. As the probes into the crash and into Roseanne's fate converge, readers will find it a challenge to suspend disbelief. Fans of the extended Decker-Lazarus clan will enjoy catching up with old friends, but those looking for a plausible police procedural may be disappointed. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Faye Kellerman lives with her husband, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman, in Los Angeles, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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The title residence is actually an apartment building in which a commuter plan has crashed into shortly after its takeoff from Burbank heading towards San Jose. The accident has occurred very close to the Granada Hills home of Peter and Rina Decker, and even closer to the school of their daughter Hannah. Fortunately, all are fine, but Peter, a police lieutenant who oversees homicide investigations, finds that there is still much to be done after the fires have been put out.
In particular, Roseanne Dresden, though listed as one of the crash victims, is alleged by her step-father to have never been on the flight. She has disappeared, however, and the step-father suspects her philandering husband. Decker and his detectives try to determine if she was on the flight, but the airline refuses to disclose any information and there are no remains found at the crash site that belong to her.
A body is found, but it is not Rosanne; instead, it is a much older corpse apparently stashed in the apartment building decades ago and exposed after the crash. This leads to a second mystery, in trying to determine who the victim is and who killed her. Sadly, the resolution of this second plot will hinge on an incredible coincidence that Kellerman doesn't really even try to justify.
This coincidence hurts The Burnt House, but not irreparably; overall, this remains a good book. Why does Faye Kellerman continue to succeed while her husband slides downhill? As much as anything, it has to do with characters: Faye has created a world with a bunch of well-defined characters who have grown over time (in fact, my one continued gripe with the series is that is marketed as a Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus mystery, when Rina has not used that last name in over a decade of fictional or real time). It's been a little while since Kellerman has written a book in the series, but for her fans, it is worth that wait.