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The Theory of Death: A Decker/Lazarus Novel (Decker/Lazarus Novels) Hardcover – October 27, 2015
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“The crimes, puzzles, mysteries, and thrills are all exciting when it comes to Kellerman’s writing, but it is the perfect relationship between Decker and Lazarus that still holds the reader and grows better and better with each novel. (Suspense Magazine)
“Kellerman writes with her usual sensitivity [...]. Writing to her strengths, Kellerman shows her customary compasion for isolated souls like Eli and social outliers like his Mennonite farm family.” (New York Times Book Review)
“THE THEORY OF DEATH is perfectly paced, full of quirky and, yes, malevolent characters populating a puzzling mystery, which, at its heart, concerns whether or not a crime actually has been committed. Faye Kellerman continues to impress and mightily so.” (Bookreporter.com)
From the Back Cover
It has been almost a year since Greenbury’s last murder. Peter Decker, a former lieutenant for LAPD, has enjoyed the slow pace of his new job with the sleepy upstate police department. All that changes when an unidentified,nude male body is found deep within the local woods.
It appears to be a suicide—single shot to the head, gun by his side—but until the coroner makes the final determination, Decker must treat the scene as a suspicious crime. The first thing he must do is identify the body—no easy task. But then Decker gets lucky.
Tyler McAdams, a former Greenbury detective and now a first-year law student, calls Decker, and once he hears about the intriguing case, his attentions shift from statutes to corpses.
When the body is finally identified, Decker and McAdams must penetrate into indecipherable upper echelons of mathematics and mathematical prodigies at Kneed Loft College. It turns out to be a dangerous sphere of scheming academics, secret cyphers, and hidden corruption, where even harmless nerds can morph into cold, calculating geniuses. They will have to employ all of their wits to penetrate enigmatic formulas and codes to solve a dark, twisted tale created by depraved, evil masterminds.
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Top Customer Reviews
Two deaths occur as the professors and their students engage in competition to claim credit for each other’s work. One is an apparent suicide—the other made to look like suicide. Peter Decker and his young associate Tyler MacAdams girded by Rina’s good Kosher food and good ideas set out to solve the mysterious deaths. The suicide had been a math prodigy with such a great future in store that it was difficult to believe he’d taken his life. The second death—an untenured female professor was engaging in outside work that the school would never approve. The math-speak is crucial to the story and I admire Kellerman’s handling of it. She made me, feel like I understood it. There are plenty of twists and turns and rich back-stories, as well. Tyler MacAdams is now a Harvard law student and the Peter Decker worries that he won’t pass his exams. MacAdams’ romantic interest is a suspect. The final denouement took me by surprise. When they finally ferret out the reason for the suicide it is a complete surprise as well.
Kellerman brings out the richness of family and culture in Orthodox Judiasm. Her books have been critical as well but I always come away from reading her with a sense of satisfaction in my own Judiasm. When an author creates something sordid like a murder or suicide, if the characters enjoy a background of richness and richness of detail then this reader finds full satisfaction.
It's always fun to drop into Decker and Rhina and their assorted strays and errant children even when the premise of the book is flawed. Apart from two suspicious deaths, the book is a long-winded thesis on Fourier transformation and oscilator mathematics used in high speed stock market trading. Unfortunately, in a valient attempt to explain the mathematical concepts, Kellerman forgot some basic principles of mystery writing. The character with the motive, and opportunity isn't even introduced until the last pages of the story and the means has to be thrown in. Even Decker's basic policing is flawed. Two guns appear, neither is traced to determine ownership. The protagonist is never interviewed. Seriously flawed as a murder mystery, it probably is the best and most accessible treatise on Fourier transformations.
Although it featured the same characters as all her previous Decker-Lazarus novels, their persona were completely different than ever before. In addition, grammar and literary structure were appalling, with errors on every page.
Somewhere in the middle of the book, I got the idea that perhaps one of the Kellerman children or kin were writing this book for Ms. Kellerman. That was because the book seemed to reflect a child's understanding of a parent, a tone of condescension and character explanations that matched a child's understanding of adult behavior.
Leaving out direct thoughts regarding the book's provenance, there is still a lot to account for in all the one-dimensional characterizations of potential culprits, their friends, relatives, and acquaintances. One female character seems to weep more often than she draws breaths.
The entire story is centered within the math department of a small college. Math departments -- in my limited experience as an advanced graduate in abstract mathematics -- are filled with the most interested and varied of people. They are erudite, conceited, tending to share and vary their connubial partners, know a hell of a lot more about literature and writing than their counterparts in those departments know about mathematics, enjoy both intellectual and physical activities. All of this simmering pot of variegation seems to have been missed by the pen of Ms. Kellerman.
I love the series and hope this single book is an aberration.
But -- damn it -- get her an editor who can edit!