'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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August 10, 2010

Hangman

It would be hard to get further from Regency England than to contemporary downtown Los Angeles, but sometimes -- and that's the fun part -- what I read when is dictated by what comes in from library reserve. Since it's brand new, I wasn't expecting to get Hangman for a while, and that was fine, since I had other plans. But then again, it's a quick read, and I hadn't read a myster in a while, and I had some lazy free time this past weekend, I thought I would breeze through it, in happy beach-book fashion.. After a while, unfortunately, it felt more like I was reading to get it over with.

I love to read series mysteries, and I'm sure I'm not the only ones who reads them as much (if not more) to see what's happening with the recurring characters than for the crime puzzle. Faye Kellerman's Decker/Lazarus series (LAPD detective Peter Decker, who is just turning 60, and his beautiful wife Rina Lazarus) has a lot of these charms (Jewish religion and traditions, a blended family, and a lot of cooking!), and there's a little bit of the homefront in this book. The first of the intersecting crime stories involves Terry McLaughlin, who was involved as a very young woman in one of Decker's earlier cases and is now an emergency room doctor, married to known hitman. When she disappears, the Deckers take in her son Gabe, a 14-year-old musical prodigy. The second case involves a beautiful young nurse who is found hanging from a rafter at a construction site.

The developing relationship between Gabe and the Deckers is more interesting, and more satisfying, than the murder inquiry, and that's OK with me. I was a little disappointed with the end of the book:  both the somewhat gratuitous resolution of  the cases (where did THAT come from?), and with the writing. It almost seems that Kellerman rushed through the telling so she could get back to Gabe. And when you're not especially enjoying a book, you start to notice faults...strained little bits of dialogue, and the odd need Kellerman has to keep telling us what her detectives are wearing, for not apparent reason.

I didn't dislike this book...I just felt that I was reading it dutifully, not out of great enjoyment. I'm guess I'm glad, though, that I can walk it down to the library tonight, and then turn back to Emma and Edith and even a little more Georgette Heyer. (I want to read one of her mysteries, and the one that's arriving soon is called Envious Casca. I chose it solely because of its wonderful title.)

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