- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 14 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: HarperAudio
- Audible.com Release Date: December 14, 2007
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00120W9G0
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Ritual Bath: The First Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Novel Audiobook – Unabridged
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Rina Lazarus makes a sympathetic character, one that draws the reader into the story, even if they've never personally known any Orthodox Jews. As a woman, it's easy to identify with this character. A widowed mother of two little boys, she supports her family by teaching school and working as the mikveh lady at the ritual bath.
Author Faye Kellerman also deftly handles some cultural issues that exist within the Jewish community: Rina's less religious parents aren't happy with her choice to live as an Orthodox Jew. Even in later books in the series, her parents remain distant, bit players in the lives of their daughter and her two sons.
Without spoiling the heart of the story, LAPD cop Peter Decker comes into her life after investigating a crime that happens outside the mikveh, the ritual bath house. The story between them unfolds in a reasonable and believable way, and sets the pace for the entire series of books, which have stretched over twenty-two years. None of them are as much fun to read as 'The Ritual Bath.'
The Ritual Bath, a mikvah, is used by orthodox Jews to ritually cleanse their bodies and souls. It is performed by immersing one's entire body into a pool of running (as opposed to stagnant) water and chanting prayers.
That hardly seems to be a place where danger lurks, yet, Kellerman uses the locale to introduce the reader to many of the features of her writing. First, she employs Hebrew words, foreign to most of us. These seamlessly explain customs, holidays, and rituals. To her credit, they don't interfere with the dialogue that she skillfully writes. Second, her protagonists can seemingly never have a relationship. Rina is a modern orthodox Jew. Peter is a gentile Los Angeles police detective. Third, the author turns an implausible idea into reality. (No plot giveaways here. (Read and enjoy it for yourself.) Next, being set in L.A., an enormous metropolitan area, allows us to accept the diversity of cultures within the plot. Last, Kellerman's use of opposites creates the right amount of tension between her protagonists.
Some mystery writers, such as Lee Child, write page-turners that are impossible to put down. While Kellerman's plot turns, it lacks this edgy excitement throughout the book. The dénouement, however, is well done. She has more than one potential antagonist for us and the ending is surprising.
The portrayal of the main female character, Rina Lazarus, is strong. The author has given her a firm voice. We can picture her, she rings true. It is Peter Decker, the male protagonist, who is not fully developed. He is somewhat like the TV detective Peter Falk played on the Columbo series decades ago. At face value he is a less dimensional personality than Rina. But, like that TV detective, there is more to Peter than we initially see.
As a first in a lengthy series, The Ritual Bath is a good introduction for the reader. We learn about the characters. Who they are, what their value systems and beliefs are, and how they meet. This back story is essential in understanding their motivations. If you like serial writing and enjoy the familiarity of characters and settings, this story is a good place to start.
In this haunting mystery, you learn how Decker and Lazarus came to be.
Although I'm not Jewish, Ms. Kellerman's detailed narrative makes learning about Orthodox Judaism a real pleasure.
Throw in cops, bad guys and mystery you can't top it! Oh, did I mention one hell of a love story?